34 of Robe’s incredibly versatile CycFX 8 fixtures provided an elegant and inventive solution for Lighting Designer Aaron Copp on the new production of Shahrazad, choreographed by Jonah Bokaer for the Royal Ballet of Flanders (whose Artistic Director is Olivier Award winning Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui).
Aaron, a freelance Lighting Designer based in New York, was asked to collaborate on Shahrazad by American choreographer Jonah Bokaer, known for his provocative and risk taking work, often utilising mixed media.
The decor (jointly designed by Copp and Bokaer) was extremely simple, but contained many references to silks, veils, and the sensual quality of the original stories. The primary scenic elements were two Rose Brand poly-silk backdrops, with a Rose Brand Voile kabuki curtain opening the show, and scenic pieces of Peroni Juta Rarola fabric also playing a large part.
Having only two backdrops as the primary visual elements for almost 45 minutes of choreography was daunting, which is why having the largest possible tool kit on those drops was vitally important. After much online research and working with lighting supplier PRG Belgium, Aaron and RBF production manager Mieke Vanderhaeghen were able to procure 34 of the CycFX8.
The units were arranged in a frame – 11 across the top, 11 on the floor, and six on each side mounted to a vertical structure fabricated by the RBF shop. The CycFX8 units played about 40cm upstage of the silks, alternately lighting directly into the fabric and bouncing onto a white cyc upstage of the silk. The CycFX units were sometimes static but often in motion, using slow colour chase, zoom and tilt effects to provide a constant sense of motion in the background.
Bokaer had challenged Aaron to design the last five minutes of the ballet with lighting only – so at a climactic musical moment in the final movement, all the drops flew out and the CycFX 8 array was revealed for a heavily cued “storm” of lighting, sweeping across the dancers with constant motion, finally settling into a deep blue wash for the ballet’s conclusion.
Aaron had not used CycFX fixtures before, but after plenty of research was confident that they would do exactly what he wanted and needed. It was only when they were on site at the technical rehearsal facility in Antwerp that he realised they “exceeded all his expectations. It’s an extremely high quality, super-reliable fixture,” he concluded.
Bruno Wittock was the Lighting Programmer.