THON is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. It’s a year-long effort that raises funds and awareness for children and families fighting against pediatric cancer. More than 16,500 college students danced at the Bryce Jordan Center for 46 hours straight and raised $10,045,478.44. 4Wall DC provided the rental package for the event made possible by donations from Red Brick Productions, ETC, the Bryce Jordan Center, and various other University entities.
THON started in 1973 inside Penn State’s HUB Ballroom where 78 dancers participated. In 2007, THON made the move to its new home in the Bryce Jordan Center. To embody the growth and overall spirit of the event, an upgraded lighting package was introduced.
“In 2007, the lighting rig was nothing more than a 40’ stick of pre-rigged truss with par bars,” said Bryce Jordan Center Production Manager Chad Swires. “Over time we introduced moving lights into the upstage truss and deck, and over the dance floor. With the growth of LED lighting, we have been fortunate to expand the lighting package over the last two years.”
Over the weekend there were a multitude of presentations, from a single speaker, to the dance team and cheerleaders, and this year included a special surprise performance from DNCE. With a range of different acts throughout the weekend, the goal of the lighting design demanded versatility while energizing the spirit of the crowd at the same time.
“There were over 700 dancers and thousands of fans that never left, and stared at the stage for 46 hours,” explained Swires. “We wanted to be able to provide depth and contrasting looks to keep them motivated all weekend long.”
Swires and his team turned to 4Wall DC to provide the gear for one of THON’s largest design changes yet. The signature diamond truss consisted of (40) ETC D60 pars, (10) ETC D40 pars, (24) Martin MAC 101’s, (8) Robe Robin Pointe(s), (6) Martin Atomic 3000 Strobes, (8) Martin MAC Quantum Profiles, (6) Procan 8-lite audience blinders and (6) Thomas Par Bars.
“The D60’s provided color wash for the stage and the D40’s were used as truss warmers,” said Swires. “The Quantum Profiles gave us the ability to provide special effects and textures over the stage.”
Swires utilized the Robe Pointe(s) for beam effects through the haze. The fixture’s ability to move quickly was also a valuable attribute to the lighting design team.
On both sides of the upstage surrounding THON’s banner, the team built vertical truss towers consisting of (12) Robe Robin Pointe(s), (18) Martin MAC Auras, (8) Ayrton MagicBlades, and (6) Elation WW2 Cue Pix.
The Martin MAC Auras provided a fantastic wall of color behind the stage. “It was really a focal point to draw your attention and provided excellent backlight for the acts on stage,” explained Swires.
The downstage consisted of (4) Martin Viper Performances and (8) Thomas Parbars. Over the dance floor the team used two sticks of truss each with (4) Martin Mac 101’s and (4) Martin Viper Performances.
“The Vipers provide excellent power to cut through the rest of the lighting rig, whether it was for additional front light, highlighting sections of the arena or just providing texture across the dance floor,” explained Swires.
Swires spoke about his experience and most memorable moments from THON 2017.
“I think each of us finds a different part of the weekend to be the most impactful. The energy that you feel in the arena over the course of 46 hours is incredible. For me, the most memorable moments are watching a young child step on stage. For a few minutes, he or she feels like they can conquer the world as 12,000 people cheer them on!”
4Wall’s Katie Kudrick and Penn State alumna, played an instrumental role in helping Swires and his design team select the proper gear for THON 2017.
“4Wall provided excellent service throughout the process. 4Wall facilitated a design that illuminated over 30 acts, including 11 bands, a nationally recognized act, and ultimately raised over $10 million for the fight against pediatric cancer,” said Swires.
He concluded by saying, “As we continue to grow our relationship with 4Wall, we are counting on their continued service, partnership and philanthropy for such an amazing cause.”
Design Credits: Roger Tharp, Dominic Geleskie, Matt Summerson, Jason Swope, Mike Birardi, Joseph Gooch, Tom Spalding, Chad Swires
To find out how you can participate in next year’s event or to donate, visit www.THON.org.com #FTK
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