Lighting designer Les Dickert serves as lighting supervisor for White Oak Dance Project, the innovative modern dance company which performs under the artistic direction of dancer-extraordinaire Mikhail Baryshnikov. Dickert's work. along with that of White Oak's primary lighting designer, Jennifer Tipton, was seen in PASTForward, a program presented Brooklyn Academy of Music on June 5-9, 2001.
PASTForward examines the work created by such seminal modern dance choreographers as Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Simone Forti, and David Gordon, and their early performances, many of which were held at the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square in Greenwich Village, New York City. Many of the works on the program were created between 1960 and 1970, and show the roots of contemporary modern dance.
Dickert tours with White Oak, and has taken PASTForward to Princeton, Anchorage, and Paris as part of a ten-city tour. He lit Yvonne Rainer's Talking Solo and her Chair/Pillow, while Tipton lit the other works on this program. "I did research on the period," says Dickert, who consulted with Tipton on the approach to take. "We looked at how the dance was meant to be taken. There is no illusion. No artifice." The lighting follows suit.
"The lighting is purely presentational," Dickert explains. "There is never a notion of putting in colors and we use the house equipment, which in the case of BAM is mostly Strand. There are no moving lights, and no tricks. This is anti-toys." In fact, the designers use a stripped down plot of just 120 fixtures, with what Dicket calls "the ABC's of dance lighting: just light the people. No bells or whistles."