Sydney Dance Company, Australia

The Opportunity

To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the Sydney Dance Company performed a short run of special back-to-back performances from November 1 – 9 at the Roslyn Packer Theatre in Walsh Bay. The first piece performed, 6 Breaths, was choreographed by the company’s Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela to an original score for piano and six cellos by Italian composer Ezio Bosso. Twelve dancers clad in ripped black clothing danced on a dark, smoke-filled stage, with abstract animations projected onto a scrim downstage between movements. The second piece on the program, Gideon Obarzanek’s Us 50, contrasted the first performance with a bright, open setting and an energetic electronic score by U.K. musician Clark. The piece featured an impressive 50 performers, including current and former company dancers as well as members of the community. To bring the two aesthetically different performances to life, the show required a versatile lighting fixture with ultra-quiet operation.

The Solution

Lighting Designer Ben Cisterne illuminated the show with Martin Professional MAC Encore Wash WRM fixtures as recommended by Ian Gerrard from Intense Lighting, relying on their power and versatility to serve the different aesthetics of each performance.

Cisterne selected the MAC Encore Wash WRM, an updated LED replacement for the discontinued MAC TW1, to achieve the perfect soft-edged wash lighting with a good amount of flexibility while staying within a budget. With a 3000K color temperature, the Encore Wash WRM delivered the warm, classic look of a tungsten lamp while allowing Cisterne to easily switch to a daylight look when necessary with its variable CTB. The fixture’s ultra-quiet operation proved indispensable in the intimate setting of a dance performance.

Given his fondness for tungsten fixtures, Cisterne appreciated how accurately the MAC Encore Wash WRM replicated that classic type of lighting, with the added reliability and consistency of LED technology. With high CRI, TM-30 and R9 values, the fixture lit the performers’ costumes and skin naturally and without any variation in color temperature when zooming or dimming. And because the Encore Wash WRM is an LED fixture, Cisterne was able to produce effects not possible with tungsten lighting, such as instantly snapping into full intensity.

The Impact

“When Rafael or Gideon call, I’m always keen to do the show,” said Lighting designer Ben Cisterne. “6 Breaths is a super abstract, really moody piece of work, and everything is about timing and small adjustments. You have to find the nuance in each little movement. Rafael’s work has lots of little sections and you have to create a scene for all of them. It really is about each moment, whereas Gideon’s work, Us 50, is more of a grand concept… It’s usually one big design idea.”

“I had four Encores on either side in a high-side position, and they really are awesome,” explained Cisterne. “They have a tungsten feel to them, and it’s like using an old MAC TW1. What’s great is being able to run the CTB wheel in them; it’s like putting Lee 201 in front of tungsten light. Plus, it dims like a tungsten light. I love their soft focus and I was a bit shocked at how bright they were. They’re also whisper-quiet, which is obviously great for my work.”

“There’s one moment where the performers are going crazy onstage, and then we snap straight into the Encores focused in full open warm wash and it’s just like you’ve snapped into tungsten light—except of course you can’t snap quickly with tungsten,” Cisterne added. “The softness of them on the ground and the softness of them through the air is something you never used to have in moving lights. The essence of tungsten light coming through smoke is such a nostalgic thing, which is the whole point of the evening.”