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Big Dance, Big Tech!

This past weekend, I saw Big Dance Theater’s Short Form at the ICA, in part because of Ilana’s recommendation, in part because I needed to see a dance piece for my Light and Movement class, and in part because I’m trying to get myself out into the creative world of Boston more often to appreciate what’s going on in the universe. As Shawna commented on this piece from its critical reception, I wanted to talk about just how pumped up I got about design.

While I am still in the process of fully understanding lighting design and all of its elements, here are the things I recognized as totally rad:

  1. The set had a white floor and removable white and black panels on the upstage wall, meaning that light could be saturated on the floor and walls to make them appear an entirely different color.
  2. Head and shin-high lights that allowed those LEDs lighting the floor to not saturate the dancers with color, allowing them to walk on color while still being lit with amber or white light.
  3. Moving lights that created a follow spot during a storytelling aspect of the piece that could rotate around the room.
  4. The use of light to create settings on the stage, such as a center spot that contained a circular movement of dancers, or a square shape that could trap a dancer while he moved, in contrast or complement to the style of movement.

Sound things:

  1. Dancers used microphones on tiny sliding platforms and would recite text from diary entries or folk stories with different distortions.
  2. One piece was narrated by the sound of a bag of ice suspended over a large tin bucket with a light shining on it, so it dripped rhythmically while a dancer moved.
  3. Volume and texture of sound around the space, the use of speakers in the audience’s space as well as on the stage.

Costume things:

  1. How costume and light interacted! One piece involved a man and a woman in metallic pants, a renaissance-y white shirt, and long, brown, curly wigs. And then they danced in purple and blue light, cross-lit so that the outlines of their bodies were lit with different colors.
  2. An male individual dancer starting in white shirt and pants, ending in pants and a tutu, the entire space lit in white light around him.

Sometimes I forget how technical elements build a piece. But it’s real! Although I do think that the movement of this piece would have been interesting sans major technical elements, I was impressed with the interaction of all of the elements to create an evening of short movement pieces, especially from an artist that is accustomed to creating 90 minute pieces with an intermission. The more I learn, and the more I read, I feel like these blog posts always end with questions. I love the feeling of constantly striving to improve upon my art by watching artists I admire and respect. How do you do that? I must remember to keep this in mind as I continue forth into directing and attending theatrical performance in the future.

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