WASHINGTON – On most nights, the Birchmere welcomes musicians to its stage, some legendary like Ray Charles and B.B. King, others up-and-coming newcomers. But once a year since 2009, the iconic live music venue turns its attention to dance, when it hosts the annual Ravens Night theatrical belly dance revue. For house LD David Beebe, who normally busks for musical performances, the chance to light dance represented a welcome opportunity to step outside his comfort zone. He met that challenge this year with help from his six CHAUVET Professional Maverick MK1 Spot fixtures, supplied by JR Lighting.
“The theme of this year’s show was ‘Memento Mori,’ which means ‘Remember Death’ in Latin, so it was quite dramatic,” said Beebe. “We had two 90-minute sets with an intermission that featured a total of 14 acts. Lighting these dancers was something different for me. It was a little scary and a challenge, but also a lot of fun. Belladonna and Ken Vegas, the organizers of the show, created a very evocative set, and many of the dancers brought their own very colorful costumes, which kind of elevated my lighting game.”
Also aiding in Beebe’s lighting design were his Maverick MK1 Spot fixtures. He left the Maverick units in their normal house position for the dance show, four of them hung evenly spaced upstage and one each downstage left and right. Drawing on the fixtures’ gobo capabilities, he used them to create colorful patterns for the dancers to move through.
“We like to use the Maverick’s gobos to create backdrops and settings for singers, but with dancers they took on a somewhat different role by providing an architecture of light for the choreography,” said Beebe. “The texture we got on stage with our gobos were very well defined, which really helped enhance the visual impression made by the dancers. Plus, the Maverick’s zoom gave us great coverage on the stage.”
Beebe also relied on his stage left and stage right Maverick MK1 Spots to provide him with sidelighting. “I did more sidelighting than I normally do for music shows,” he said. This gave the stage a more theatrical look.
“We also used a lot of par fixtures , which enhances the theatre impression,” continued Beebe. “Our Mavericks have no trouble breaking through the par lighting, even when we’re running soft colors and gobos.”
Color plays a key role in creating the Ravens Night experience. Beebe spent time working with the dancers to determine their color preferences. “We have one run-through with each act during the day and work out what kind of looks and colors they had in mind,” he said. “Helping the artists achieve what they want to project to the audience was a rewarding experience. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s very outside my normal experience.”