Lighting Designer Evgeny Romakhin deploys extensive Martin lighting for Russian experimental street dance troupe’s theatrical debut
Martin by HARMAN lighting solutions recently travelled with an emerging modern performance group on a six month tour of “Red Bull Wrong Side,” an atmospheric synthesis of classical and street dance. The tour featured a nine person dance collective known as Jack’s Garret and culminated in a sold out series of shows on the historic stage of Moscow’s Pushkin Drama Theatre.
Lighting Designer Evgeny Romakhin worked with a Martin M6 console to provide a special mood for each moment of the original, jointly choreographed work. The suite of Martin fixtures included 38 MAC Aura XBs, 18 MAC 700 Profiles, two Atomic 3000 DMXs and a MAC Viper Profile. The production was facilitated by Laser-Kinetics, Russia’s largest rental and installation organization for entertainment, events and concerts.
The Jack’s Garret team had some specific ideas in mind for the lighting design scheme, as they perfected the performance throughout the tour. "The company wished to use as little as possible ‘disco’ and ‘concert’ lighting effects and try to create the classical look on the stage that is more typical for a ballet," said Romakhin. "But to set such a unique cultural phenomenon as the ‘Wrong Side’ into the framework of standards was not possible. So I suggested an idea to keep a balance: do not allow the light to ‘overshadow’ the action on the stage but to complete the performance with the help of lighting effects, making it way more interesting and entertaining."
With continuous action that lasts 75 minutes, Red Bull Wrong Side is a dance performance where every split second is very important. The artists demonstrate amazing body memory and perfect synchronization with the music. When discussing the draft of the future light show, Romakhin described how he chose not to work on the fly, instead synchronizing the show by time code, using the Martin M6 console.
"Actors thought out every movement up to centimeters in the performance, so that there was no possibility to take one more step left or right," said Romkhin. "A dancer knows that if he runs five steps, he will be at a definite point on the stage and not in any other. All the movements of the artists are closely intertwined – everything is very precisely synchronized with music and light. As a result, we can see a complex and very interesting visual form of dance performance. Therefore, I could use only the timecode. The M6 controller is very handy, whether you work online or use time code. There are no unnecessary functions, everything you need is there, and everything is in place."
Romakhin used four types of lighting fixtures in the project. Just as in the play, all of the roles of the fixtures were clearly cast between them. Thirty-eight bright and high-powered MAC Aura XB LEDs provided high-quality wash, and at certain moments, created beam effects.
"XB – two letters that make wonders," said Romakhin. "The power of the previous version MAC Aura would not be enough for this project. There were a few moments in the show when I used these fixtures only for beam effects in a narrow zoom to support the MAC 700 Profiles. And only with the MAC Aura XB was I able to draw a crisp uniform beam from the high ceiling to the stage floor."
Only two classic Atomic 3000 DMX strobes were involved in the project, but they had "creative" tasks of their own. According to the script, the characters periodically made a photograph together. When a distinctive click of a camera sounded, the strobes simulated the effects of the flash. In addition, the Atomic 3000 DMXs created lightning bolts when there was a thunderstorm on the stage and supplied the necessary accents to underline the mood of the music.
However, the most specific task in the project was imposed on a single MAC Viper Profile, hidden behind the screen and shining up on the final scene. "Early in the tour, I was asked to include the light tunnel in the finale," said Romakhin. "I needed a powerful fixture to implement this idea. We explored several options, but the MAC Viper matched the requirements most accurately. A crisp, smooth cone of light was sent up from behind the screen, and then, the beam fell down while the zoom was spread to maximum. Such a vivid end of the performance makes the audience think."