The Labyrinth Masquerade XVI: Enter Sypher’s Realm

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By Kimberly Pham

Faint music echoed through the city as I rounded the corner in my red and black gown, nails polished, hair up, makeup, identity hidden behind my fancy feathered mask. Surprisingly, the music resonated across the street from the free concert series in MacArthur Park. But this night was more than just a concert. My heels carried me through the doors of The Legendary Park Plaza and into Jareth’s Labyrinth, an enchanted realm of mystery, magic, and wonder.

The 16th annual Labyrinth of Jareth Masquerade Ball merged with our world on July 4-5. Hosted by Sypher Art Studios, the fantasy ball brought together a world where fairies, elves, and goblins not only existed, but reveled in grand fashion.

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The Masquerade resembles a real-world reimagination of the ball scene in the 1986 cult classic film Labyrinth, directed by Jim Henson of puppeteer fame and produced by George Lucas. The film stars musician David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King, and Jennifer Connelly as Sarah, the protagonist, with a supporting cast made up of Henson’s fantasy puppet creations. To save Sarah’s infant brother, she enters into Jareth’s Labyrinth facing a series of obstacles and puzzles along the way. In one dream-like sequence, Jareth attempts to seduce Sarah in a masquerade-style ball. Less than four minutes of the movie helped inspire 16 years worth of fantasy masquerades.

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Like Sarah, the sights and creatures were at times overwhelming. This experience of a magical wonderland was created in large part by the community in attendance (and by the Masquerade’s strict dress code of costumes or formal wear with masks). I conversed with a talking wolf, met Peter Pan and the gang, watched acrobatic couples flip and toss each other into the air, and slipped around many a winged creature. Over 150 dancers, acrobats, artists, and musicians performed throughout Sypher’s Realms.

Windows to the Sky had an amazing rendition of Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Soul” in three-part harmony within the beautifully lit outer courtyard. Later, an aerial dancer swirled and flew as a drum circle continued the festivities’ lively heartbeat. New this year was the Goblin Encampment, an area with a little extra breathing room and where vendors displayed and sold handmade artwork, trinkets, costumes, and masks.

Up the grand staircase were two engaging ballrooms. In one, I caught a classical performance by international opera singer and baritone Stephen Swanson accompanied by a pianist. In the other, battle raged in Sypher’s Royal Hall.

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War broke loose as the Talisk and Lych found a way into Sypher’s Realm. It was up to the Elves and Sypher’s men to stop them; the attempt culminated in an intense sword-fighting battle. The detail that went into the projected virtual set design along with the colors and patterns projected in the rooms added dimension to the atmosphere. No detail was too small and no space was left unoccupied.

My only regret was not finding a waltz, although a delightful dance with a masked figure ended as quickly as it began. That really can be said for both nights of the ball. The clock struck two, weary revelers left with smiles and sore feet, and the Labyrinth Masquerade ended as a sweet escape in one enchanted weekend.

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Team Nerd Reactor

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