Aaron Copp lit Jonah Bokaer's Anchises, a 70-minute modern dance piece based on the Greek legend of Anchises
Jonah Bokaer’s Anchises, a 70-minute modern dance piece based on the Greek legend of Anchises (father of Aeneas), confronts the concept of filial loyalty in relation to today’s treatment of the aged. After its world premiere in October in Bournemouth, UK, and performances at Abrons Art Center in New York City in mid-November, this piece is ready to tour. With that in mind and the nature of Bokaer’s work, lighting designer Aaron Copp kept his rig small, with fewer than 100 fixtures and 72 dimmers. “It’s an abstract, imagistic work with a very loose narrative structure,” he notes.
Seth and Ariane Harrison of multi-disciplinary design firm Harrison Atelier served as both production dramaturgs and set designers. “The scenery consists of a sub-grid of aluminum pipe and suspended clear plastic tubing below it,” explains Copp. “The result is something like a nightmare tangle of abstracted medical equipment. Dancers also manipulate foam cubes and columns, which serve to create various architectures, sometimes confining the dancers, sometimes creating urban grids, sometimes creating post-conflict chaos.”
As the theatre—Pavilion Dance at Bournemouth Pavilion—was literally being completed as Anchises loaded in, Copp’s plot was more house-equipment-list-driven rather than wish-list-driven, and the show was programmed on an ETC Congo jr. “They had 24 JB-lighting JBLed A7 LED moving heads and 12 Robe ColorSpot 575 ATs, which we essentially used to replace conventional specials and template units. It was actually a nice approach because, in the middle of tech, instead of getting a ladder out, we could just get a moving light onto where we needed it. With so many movers in the rig, we would always have something within a foot or two of where we would have wanted a conventional special anyway, so it worked out fine,” says Copp. The conventional rig comprised ETC Source Four Zooms, Philips Selecon Rama 1,200W Fresnels, and conventional PARs, while the cyc was lit by a combination of the A7s and ETC Selador Vivid LED fixtures.
“The space upstage is pretty crowded, so we ended up in Bournemouth facing the LEDs downstage, bouncing them off a scenic ground row, and reflecting the light onto the cyc,” says Copp. “This approach was really fantastic for the quality of light—it was very spatial and soft—and so we figured we could get away with it using conventionals elsewhere. It didn’t not work, but it also didn’t really work, so after some internal deliberations, I decided that, since the rest of the plot was quite standard and likely to be within a small-to-medium sized presenter’s equipment list, I could get away with asking for one specialty item. This also led me away from the Seladors, even though I totally love them, but they’re just not available enough in rental stock around the world.”
As a result, for the New York performances, Philips Color Kinetics ColorBlazes lit the cyc. “Since they’re being bounced and the colors are quite bold, they work well for this,” says Copp. “The bouncing also makes the application pretty forgiving, so I think they’ll be okay when they tour it.”