Motion and light are key elements in any performance by Michael Moschen, a modern juggler who has made an art of manipulating everything from crystal balls to geometric metal shapes. Luckily for lighting designer Dave Feldman, these kinetic objects are enhanced by light, as seen in On the Shoulders of..., a series of pieces presented last winter at The Kitchen in New York City. "These are common objects I can transform," says Feldman, who has been working with Moschen since 1982.
The lighting changes frequently as Moschen plays with crystal balls, eventually reducing them in number from eight to one. "Lighting these spheres is an art in itself," says Feldman, who points out that there are 15 cues in this one piece alone. "I try to separate Michael's body from the balls and give them a life of their own." Feldman first uses two ETC Source Fours in R64 (Steel Blue), to provide back diagonal light from the second electric, with R57 (Light Lavender) sidelight from additional Source Fours 12' (4m) off the stage on booms.
As Moschen kneels and limits his action to a small area, Feldman adds two Source Fours with Lee 138 (Yellow Green) at shin level. There is also a full downstage wash in Lee 118 (Patina) coming from the third electric, and two no color 19-degree Source Fours accenting Moschen from his waist to the floor. "These make the balls glow more," says Feldman. "I try to ignite them in front of his body."
To light a series of metal shapes, ranging from a single stick to a tetrahedron, Feldman uses Lee 201 as downlight, with R50 (Mauve Red) as a narrow slice of sidelight focused just on Moschen's hands and the object. Eventually, there is just a sliver of light coming from stage left to make the tetrahedron look like one moving triangle. "The goal is to focus on the object and remove Michael from the picture as much as possible," says Feldman. "You don't really see his body, and the object glows."
In "Gyros," a piece with metal hoops, Moschen stands in a pool of Lee 115 (Peacock Blue) downlight, with steep frontlight in R58 (Deep Lavender), and Lee 138 pale green sidelight. As the hoops gain momentum, there is a transition in the light to a full-stage wash of Lee 138 in shin position and Lee 118 as blue-green backlight. There is also a shift in the sidelight, from the cool Lee 138 to a warmer R57 lavender hung at 15' (5m) and R79, a deep blue at 5' on the booms. R44 provides a rosy backlight.
"There is no frontlight," says Feldman. "The sidelight glints on the hoops. Then as Michael whips them around, the speed makes it look like he is juggling light. These objects are really light-friendly, and Michael allows them to be the center of attention."