Aerial dance troupe Blue Lapis Light uses alternative spaces as their stage. Their recent aerial work, entitled Devotion, was dedicated to the waters of the Earth. The setting was alongside and suspended over Lady Bird Lake in Austin, TX. Their canvas? The vacant Power Plant Intake Building.
LD Jason Amato and Master Electrician Patrick Anthony had their challenges with this design. Dancers would be suspended on bungees and harnesses alongside a dark building. Audience seating was 500 feet across the lake, although party boats offered some mid-lake viewing.
The design dilemma was resolved with High End Systems automated lighting: 5 intellaspots, 4 SHOWBEAM 2.5s, 2 SHOWGUN 2.5s and 2 F-100 fog machines from Olden Lighting in Austin, TX.
“The lights are an intricate part of the cinematic visuals of each site performance,” said Sally Jacques, artistic director of Blue Lapis Light. “Our lighting designer Jason Amato talks to me about what the essence of the work is, watches rehearsals, and sees what spaces the dancers are using. From there he designs and creates lighting choices that not only corresponds to the vision of the work but makes it live and breathe in stunning ways.”
The SHOWBEAM 2.5s and SHOWGUN 2.5s were crucial to the design, Amato said. “With the audience being 500 feet away, the only way to get a significant impact was to use fixtures with that much punch. It was just too far for conventional equipment.”
All the lights were hung over the water on truss or attached directly to the handrail where the dancers hung. The intellaspots were grouped in the middle of the truss and the SHOWGUN 2.5s were fixed on the far ends. Two F-100s added fog to the wind.
The intellaspots splashed color and gobos onto the building. “The whole show was run on a generator and with the intellaspots coming in at 20,000 lumens at only 850 watts (versus 20k lumens/1200 watts on the competition), it allowed me to spec a smaller generator and save my budget for other things,” Amato said. “With the difficult rigging situation, the extra handles went a long way for helping us stabilize the unit during the hanging process.”
Amato describes a great moment in the show where the intellaspots dropped in the “perfect shade” of amber on the color wheel. “I couldn’t have been happier. The gobos looked great, and resolution was perfect.”
He added, “The intellaspots were rock solid the whole time. We never had a problem with them, even though they sat outside for weeks in 100+ degree weather and were 6 feet from the river.”
SHOWBEAM 2.5s and SHOWGUN 2.5s shot the primary light on the dancers.
“The fixtures’ 100,000 lumen output really made the show possible,” Amato said. “One of our worries was that the SHOWBEAM 2.5s and SHOWGUN 2.5s would be too hot, as the dancers were performing within two feet of the units. In those situations, the LED ring on the units did a great job. I was really pleased with the end result.”
Audiences viewed the spectacle on certain nights during a 10-day time period.