Mavericks help express Flamenco Passion
Wednesday, 3 August 2022
flamenco-passionThe Flamenco Passion, annual Spanish dance festival
USA - There are many reasons why Dustin L. Derry always embraces the opportunity to light dance performances. High on this list is the opportunity it affords him to depart from the conventional use of colours and patterns.
“What’s nice about dance, is you don’t have to think so literally about 'natural' lighting,” said the Chicago-based designer. “In dance, you can push deep into the surreal and express yourself in new ways to support the choreographer’s vision. You can focus on individual elements, like live musicians, and help blend them into the background, and then pull specific dancers or ideas into the foreground and vice versa depending on the needs of the moment. I don't think this presents any challenges, so much as it opens new doors for me creatively.”
Derry stepped boldly through those doors recently, inventively using gobo patterns and coloured key lighting to accentuate shapes and movements of dancers when lighting La Caña, a 14-minute piece that was part of the Flamenco Passion, annual Spanish dance festival sponsored by Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theatre. Helping him along the way were six Maverick Force 2 Profile and eight Rogue R2X Wash fixtures from Chauvet Professional.
“In this piece, texture became everything for our choreographer Susana Lupiañez (“Lupi”) Pinto and me,” he said. “Lupi really wanted to feature the floor patterns the dancers were making as well as the shapes of their bodies. Two great ways to accomplish this sort of thing are by using gobo/textures that pay homage to the shapes of the dancers and also silhouettes. We spent the majority of the piece in all of these complex layered looks, my programming literally dancing with the performers on stage, and with a powerful stomp of the feet.
“This created some incredibly dramatic looks, such as when we snapped into a full cyc red silhouette,” continued Derry. “At that moment, there was silence, and then red filling the visual field with the stark, black, shapes of perfectly positioned dancers. That slowly rebuilt into our final push to the climax of the piece.”
Positioned, three apiece on the second and fourth electrics, the Maverick Force 2 Profile fixtures were key to helping Derry achieve such dramatic moments. “We arranged the Mavericks to mimic our conventional 'quarter down' specials that you find in most modern dance rep plots,” he explained. “This allowed use to use them as specials, but also full stage washes with a minimal number of units. The choice of gobo patterns they gave us were a great tool. We also had four Rogues on the second and four electrics. They are my workhorse, constantly shifting from producing full stage washes of intense colour, to creating soft edge specials that highlighted moments without being too literal.”
Adding another dimension to the dance performance was the presence of musicians seated in a row along the upstage deck. “Adding live musicians to dance is always a bit of a challenge,” said Derry. “First being, how to keep them interesting without being the focal point of the stage unless you are specifically choosing to highlight them. The extra bit of zoom one gets in the Mavericks and Rogues, makes this pretty easy to blend seamlessly.”

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