Shining a new light on dance

 

Lighting a live performance is always a challenge. The primary aim is to illuminate human beings who, by necessity, move through a space in a unique way every time - even if they are replicating precise movements.

The classical form of ballet has proven itself perhaps surprisingly adept at adapting to new mediums and technologies in recent years. The latest example of this comes from the Brooklyn Ballet, which recently incorporated LED costumes into its Vectors, Marys, and Snow reinterpretation of The Nutcracker with the help of NYC Resistor a New York-based hacker collective.

 

As Brooklyn Ballet artistic and founding director Lynn Parkerson puts it, the decision to bring LED technology into their costume design is honoring a long-held tradition of ballet lending itself to radical design choices. In the words of Parkerson herself:

 

“This creative use of technology could enhance the choreography, visible connections between the choreography and the space. Also, in a very large space, it can bring a kind of a sparkle, and something that really maybe isn’t seen in the classical canon. However, I feel like the classical canon really lends itself to extreme scenic effects.”

 

Burlesque artist Vicky Butterfly, meanwhile, has taken things one step further by creating large parts of her show around her stage outfit.

 

The costume, which integrates textiles with LED lights in a manner similar to the Brooklyn Ballet costumes, is designed to look like a glowing moth when the lights go down, in a manner befitting the artist’s name. As Vicky puts it:

 

“To some extent design IS my performance. Although I ‘live’ in my performances and dance and move to express myself, a lot of the story I am trying to tell is effect - using design to make my ideas more real or magical.

 

“A lot of my acts center on the idea of transformation so if you put them on a stage without costume, set or lighting design they wouldn’t be the same pieces.”

 

Which great examples of innovative lighting have you seen in dance performances? Have they been part of costumes? Or were the lights used in a different way?

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