Making Light Dance: Behind the Scenes with NYCB's Lighting Designer

March 20, 2016

Looking for an especially lovely way to start your Monday? Watch this gem of a video, which shows us New York City Ballet from the unique perspective of resident lighting designer Mark Stanley.

Lighting design is so critical to dance, and yet, as dancers, we rarely think about it. (Unless the sidelights are blinding us, or we’re banging our legs on the “shin-buster” lowlights.) But at a place like NYCB—where, as Stanley points out, the rep of mostly abstract works means that light is frequently the only scenic element—good lighting can completely transform a ballet. “Light is to dance,” he says, “like water is to fish. It creates the mood….It makes commentary on space and time….Dance is always interesting, but the light is what gives it a character and a place.”

In the video (produced by Boston University, where Stanley is head of the MFA design and production program), Stanley takes us backstage at NYCB’s home, Lincoln Center’s Koch Theater. He introduces us to the various lights that make up his palette, all of which have their own “personalities.” It’s fascinating stuff. As a bonus, there’s also beautiful behind-the-scenes footage of the NYCB dancers rehearsing Justin Peck‘s Paz de la Jolla and Peter Martins’ Ash.

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