June 15, 2011 in ideas
I had the honour to be member of the Lighting Design Jury for the Czech Dance Platform 2011. This is an annual dance festival that introduces contemporary choreographies from Czech artists
The lighting design award was proudly given to Pavla Beranova for her interesting work on Sacrebleu.
The overall lighting scene in Czech dance theatre is quite traditional, combining well-tried techniques into new compositions. Luckily, there is a bit of creativity emerging here and there with some experimental moments. It doesn’t help that Czech Dance Platform presents their pieces in two completely uncomparable spaces. The Studio ALT@ is a basically found space with the simplest setup that usually even gets shared between two performances in one night. Divadlo Ponec, on the other hand, provides the companies with a full-scale professional blackbox for exclusive use.
Here are my impressions of the 2011 programme:
Sunyata; Fertile Emptiness is fascinatingly dedicated to playing with light. Light is a material here, a dance partner that the performers interact with. The special effects seem rehearsed and well thought through. The general light, on the other hand, fails to serve its purpose and quite often leaves the wider scenes unlit and scattered.
Grooves is a dance piece performed in lighting, not with lighting. The scenes are quite general and rarely set a mood for the scene. Except for a couple of strong directions and colours, the lighting here does not really take a stand.
Void Amongst Humans starts off with some elaborate lighting patterns and tightly focused beams, but falls into a general lighting after the first minute. It still gathers its credibility during the run with some beautifully simple moments that give different dimensions to the otherwise empty space.
Mah Hunt is a strong marriage between scenography and lighting. The style of the piece extremely visual and is created with skill and care, letting the audience’s eyes feast upon the rich colours and atmospheric patterns that are created on stage by excellent focus and wisely chosen light levels.
Mah Hunt. Foto: Petr Otta http://www.tanecniplatforma.cz
Excursion with Helga‘s lighting is a scramble of functional locations (we need light on this part of the stage) and low-level general effects (let’s make this look artsy). The lighting fixtures occupy the stage as characters, but are never really given the opportunity to input much anything to the action.
Guess How Many Stars There Are is a graceful classic on stage, starring in its simplicity. Clear lighting directions and excellent focusing create a fairytale world where light ends up exactly and only where it is needed to serve its purpose, perfectly supporting the affectionate choreography.
Persistence of Losers uses light in a fun an clever way. There’s the bit of experimenting and a lot of dangerous, but flawlessly rehearsed focus spots for the moving scenography to end up in. It definitely deserves praise for its excellent timing and cooperation with performers which is not easy with the number of dancers on stage and fast pace of the piece.
Side Effects puts the bets on a single, strong lighting effect that works well with such a short piece. The video part of the performance, on the other hand, excels with some diverse and creative lighting, resulting in an interesting and pleasant atmosphere.
Perfect Day or Mr Gluteus Maximus has excellent scenography for making something interesting happen, nevertheless the lighting in this piece originates from a very practical and neutral standpoint, although still managing to support the narrative in an enjoyable way.
Transforma has a courageous lighting design with a slow pace and a mind of its own. The light is kept quite general with lighting fixtures framing the space, throwing in quite a while of a strobo effect when least expected.
Between a rock and a hard place uses light as a function, not as a design element. The stage locations are defined by lighting and a couple of conceptual effects that make a statement. Funnily, the piece does not leave us craving for a specific design, as the simplicity of low light works well with the choreography.
REEN puts a lot of effort into stage technology, including lights. The piece starts off very promisingly with little spots forming a lighting matrix, but after that, the lighting slowly stops making sense and the diagonal rig of fluorescent battens even disappoints with its short and underused moment on stage.
Sacrebleu creates an interesting and dreamy world with very characteristic on-stage lighting fixtures that follow the performance, throwing light beams in apparently random, but in reality well thought through directions.. The grande rig of side lights misses out on a lot of use and opportunities, but the simplicity of PARs makes the piece very personal and expressive.