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Lighting Associations

Lighting is commonly used to generate different mood states but different types of lighting may also carry meaning-associations that can help convey a dance idea. For example, candles bring connotations of churches, birthdays, power cuts, poverty, or could be a metaphor for keeping ‘the flame’ of something alive, like a memory or belief.

The Zoetrope scene in Charge establishes a flavour of C18th pre-electrical times using a combination of the strobe lighting effect and the shapes made by the dancers.

  • Choose one lighting effect from the list below (or add your own to the list) and mind-map typical associations:

Candles     torches/head torches     neon light     ultraviolet lights     film     strobe     disco ball     jack-o’-lanterns     fairy lights   other?

  • Decide which association you want to work with and create 3 still images to convey it. For example: candles (churches: arches, kneeling, the peace handshake, praying).
  • In threes, choose one of the themes and develop the images further by increasing their number to ten. Vary the number of dancers in each frame; their spatial pattern and proximity (relationships, foreground/background); face and focus; use unison, complementary or contrasting shapes; exact repetition or repeats with variation/progression
  • Bring in your choice of lighting. How will you use the lights to make the most of their associations? Do you carry them or are they static? Can you throw giant shadows and interact with them; play with flickering, sweeping or on/off effects; light only certain body parts?
  • Once the idea is established, think of a simple narrative thread and using space, proximity, focus and shape, adapt your images to tell a mini-story.
  • Share the work. The group can be asked to close their eyes and open them on a given signal (a clap, click or snippet of music/sound) or you could work on sympathetic transitions between the images and hold each freeze. Are the audience able to follow what is happening?
  • Find or create sound to accompany and layer meaning in your sequence.

Watch: How Choreography can work with lighting to transform a scene

Charge is supported by

Warwick Arts Centre, Rothschild Foundation, Ernest Cook Trust, Tipping Point, Stories of Change

Official energy partner of Charge

First Utility

Motionhouse is supported by

Warwick DC, Lottery Funded, Arts Council England, Vitsoe, John Ellerman Foundation