The recently opened Borgata Casino Hotel & Spa bills itself as a place to interact, play, indulge, and escape - a resort where visitors can escape the ordinary. What better place for the Vari*Lite Series 3000™ luminaires to make their Atlantic City debut than at a private function for 1,200 of the Borgata's high-rolling friends featuring AntiGravity, a surreal aerial dance production.
The atmosphere created by lighting designer Herrick Goldman provided a night of escapism as acrobats, shadows, and dancing colors produced a wonderland of fantasy-like imagery around and above the audience. While the artists performed on three stages within the new showroom, Goldman used 24 VL3000™ Spot luminaires to create the illusion that the room was filled with activity from floor to ceiling and from wall to wall.
Each of the 8’ x 8’ stages was four feet high. On each corner of the stage, Goldman positioned a VL3000 Spot luminaire on top of a road case. As the acrobats went through their routine, Goldman focused in tight with the fixtures and then pulled back, using the VL3000 Spot's awesome 6:1 zoom range to project silhouettes of the performers on the wall approximately 40’ behind the artists.
"The zoom was absolutely fabulous," Goldman said. "Even though the performers were no more than three feet away from the fixtures, I was able to zoom wide enough to cover one performer standing on top of another and project a monster shadow on the back wall. It was awesome."
Using the Vari*Lite stock "dots" gobo in stage-positioned luminaires and aiming the fixtures straight up using a narrow zoom, Goldman created a spray of colored dots on the ceiling with nice, narrow beams shooting into the air like columns. As the performers were hoisted into the air in satin white hammocks, Goldman zoomed out to create a "reverse mirror-ball effect" on the ceiling, the performers passed through as the dots rotated and changed from white to orange to blue.
"The color-mixing was beautiful. I was able to dial in some really fabulous colors," Goldman said. "When I started programming, I used a lot of Congo blue and red, just because I like those colors. I'm a huge fan of Congo blue, but usually when you do the entire rig in Congo blue, you have to give up some serious intensity.
"The VL3000 Spot luminaires are so bright that you were still able to see them with Congo blue. The performers were actually squinting into a Congo blue mixture; the intensity was impressive," Goldman continued. "The color quality of the units didn't surprise me because I've used Vari*Lite fixtures before, and the color is always great."
In addition to the fixtures onstage, Goldman also positioned fixtures overhead above each corner of the three stages. Typically Goldman uses haze and fog to create depth and to provide atmosphere for the lights. Because the aerial dance artists perform in mid-air, Goldman uses swirling colors to add to the chemistry and kinetic artistry of the performance. Adding a fan to blow the smoke straight up and then adding color from the fixtures creates an even greater illusion that the artists are floating or flying through the air.
The Vari*Lite fixtures were provided by Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Starlite Productions. Antigravity is the conception of Chris Harrison, who founded the company 12 years ago. The company now has four franchises. Harrison's philosophy in lighting is in line with current market trends - a bit of mystery enhances the overall effect. More of Goldman's work with AntiGravity and other programs can be seen at www.HGLightingDesign.com.
"I use the lights just like aerial side-lighting or uplighting to reveal the form in a more mysterious fashion. It's dance lighting in mid-air, with a touch of comic book super hero," Goldman said. "I typically use spots because I can control them better, whether it's with the iris or with gobos. The VL3000 Spot luminaires are just beautiful units. I've always used Vari*Lite fixtures. I've had no reason to switch."