L.A. Dance Project makes its New York debut at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) October 16-18, with works by Benjamin Millepied, Justin Peck, and William Forsythe, as part of the 2014 Next Wave Festival. Live Design chats with the company’s resident lighting designer Roderick Murray. Be sure to read Part One and Part Two. Here is a continuation of that interview:
Live Design: What is most challenging and rewarding about working with a company like this?
Roderick Murray: The most challenging thing is the time away from my family. But the production staff is absolutely incredible and I am learning every day. Working at the level of the superstar has its challenges as things that are essential to less well-known people are not even on the radar. Mainly this concerns keeping a consistent schedule. As an example, we have a gig the week after our BAM season in LA and we will follow our typical format of presenting three pieces in the evening; I have drawn a plot to cover four dances. I will wait until the end of this week to be sure the programming (for three weeks from now) doesn’t change and I can cut one of them. For presenting dance though, it is an ideal most companies can never have, and I am well aware of that.
When we put on a performance, the production values are top notch every time. The total experience of the staff is years deep with companies and groups like Cunningham, Tharp, Lucinda Childs, Robert Wilson, River Dance, and gazillions of others.
I love too being around the young dancers and watching them grow and trying to be there for them when they go through those professional growing pains that dancers go through.
On an aesthetic level, for a lighting designer for dance, I am one lucky dude. For Benjamin’s latest work, I controlled the stage for the piece as well as the lights. We start off in full black legs and black background. As the piece progresses, one by one the black elements fly out in view of the audience until we are left with a completely empty theatre with lights on the floor against the back wall facing the audience’s eyes with the dancers in between on the stage. I used four HMI’s, two Svobodas, two 5k’s, and multiple 2k PC units. I used nothing (just about) you can easily get in the US, but is typical in Europe. In previous pieces, I have had rolling TV lights on stands moved by the dancers, or one section of piece lit by a 10kW and two 5kW cyc lights, and many other really fulfilling situations that for me are based in a hope to experiment with lights on dance as a way to reveal space and movement in new ways.