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LD Ben Rawson Lights Garrett Smith's Corridors at Atlanta Ballet with 4Wall Gear

By Drew Quinones
Apr 15, 2024, updated May 9, 2024
 LD Ben Rawson Lights Garrett Smith's Corridors at Atlanta Ballet with 4Wall Gear

Atlanta, GA - Last month, the Atlanta Ballet took the stage at the Cobb Energy Centre for the Performing Arts to unveil the final piece of its March three-program lineup, the much-anticipated premiere of Garrett Smith's latest choreographic creation, "Corridors". For the performance, Lighting Designer Ben Rawson utilized a 4Wall lighting rental package to showcase the dancers and production effectively. 

For the lighting design, Rawson and the creative team intended to create and represent visually multiple "corridors". Representing different pathways or courses through life and how individuals' stories and lives may intersect. A set of large upstage vertical trusses, forming distinct corridors, symbolically embody the narratives of two male lead dancers. 

"The first thing I did for this work once in the space was begin creating an extremely tight and sharp grid made up of lanes of light across the stage as these representative corridors, and the base tools for the design," Rawson explained. "I worked with our programmer Ethan Weathersbee on the deck itself and over wireless com to inspect and guide each shutter cut to line up exactly. We taped and measured exact 5'-0" pathways all throughout the space to reference our shutters to and blend the cross units into each other seamlessly. The two trusses, in addition to serving as a primary visual and representative element in the work, functionally are the source of our upstage and downstage corridors of light intersecting with the overhead rig's left and right lanes." 

The LD chose Martin MAC Ultra moving lights to create these corridors for the wide zoom, bright, crisp, even beam, and sharp framing shutters. "The fixtures that created these corridors had to be capable of live adjustments in size and shape, corresponding with the trusses' movement," said the LD. "They started from a landed truss height of +18', projecting a sharply defined rectangle of light that covered more than 45' of stage space. Then they had to adapt their framing and scale during flight to align with the overhead units at a +30' trim height as the truss moved upwards while keeping a balanced match and evenness to the rest of the corridors onstage." 

"The LED engine of the Ultras  was able to match our Martin MAC Viper DX Wash system's intensity and provide smooth, even consistency across all of our corridors units without the worry of any minor lamp or beam inconsistency in a piece where those crisp, even, details were everything." Rawson continued, "The left/right corridors being a blend of multiple overhead cross lights meant that their exact match in color temperature, shutters, smooth beam, would be the difference in visually believing it was a seamless lane, or seeing any dips or uneven edges in the corridors crispness. The same applies to the amount of aerial and visual beam work in the haze done in the piece, and ensuring an evenness and consistency across the gear visually."

The LD continued, "The speed and quick movement of the Ultras also supported a specific section of the work based solely around these corridors where for about 45 seconds the company dances together in a sculpted stark world onstage while on specific downbeats within counts of 8 the lanes and corridors of light snap on and shift between single corridors, multiple pairs, and a fuller grid of corridors. These quick snaps bump our focus into and highlight these specific dancers in this company-driven section, who, in those brief moments, are lining up to be caught in our lanes of light before we snap into a different configuration, highlighting different dancers. The 45-second section itself featured almost 20 zero-second bump cues, expertly called by Atlanta Ballet Stage Manager Nicole Walters nightly."

In addition to the "Corridors," the evening at Atlanta Ballet also consisted of Mark Morris' "Sandpaper Ballet" and another world premiere world by Sergio Masero, "Querencia". "Having a work like "Corridors" with a very specific lighting need on the bill with 2 other works is challenging to ensure everything in the plot works well and supports each of the 3 pieces needs as best as possible. "Querencia" features an over 24' painting hanging mid-air, and "Sandpaper Ballet" is a large open stage company work," said Rawson. "So having our overhead be basically entirely moving lights allows the flexibility and customization of each piece back light or cross  light to specific needs, scenic elements, or crafted specific moments without impacting other works on the bill."

The lighting rental package 4Wall provided included (16) Martin MAC Ultra, (9) Martin MAC Viper Wash DX, (6) Clay Pkay Sharpy Wash, (12) ETC Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr, (14) Elation SIXBAR 1000, (16) Chroma-Q Color Force II 72" fixtures and over 200 conventional units. 

The LD spoke of the service and gear 4Wall provided, "We loved the way everything turned out with the evening works, and the gear 4Wall provided executed the designs wonderfully and just as we had hoped. I always appreciate the support of the team at the 4Wall Atlanta shop and from 4Wall's shops wherever I am around the country, and I look forward to the next one."

See more of Lighting Designer Ben Rawson's work here.

Production Photos by Shoccara Marcus

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