Apr 18

Lighting for Dance

This week the school’s dance show took place. For the show I designed the lights for three of the dances. I learned a lot about the designing the lights. First I had to watch the dances multiple times. I looked for changes in the music and when the dancers exited and entered. I marked those times down so I would know when I wanted to change the lights during the dance. The lights for the dance don’t stay the same because that would be boring. Instead they change in subtle or sometimes more dramatic ways as the dance changes. I also needed to figure out what the costumes were so I could make sure the lights and costume did not clash. I also needed to talk to the choreographer to see what they wanted with the lights.

One of the costumes were copper tops and black bottoms so I did a purple coloring to go along with them. For the second the costumes were purple, yellow, or pink top with black bottoms. I did more red coloring because it did not clash and it fit with the dance which was more of a hip hop dance. The third was more upbeat and fun so I did a lot more colors.

I had to put all my knowledge of different types of lights to work to create the looks for the dances. During the dance I used the cyclorama for the main source of colors. I had a few LEDs on the side to add some colors on the side. The side light added some shadows and made the dancers look 3-D. I also had a lot of white light to help light the dancers faces and bodies so the audience could see. We had a few backlights that were a pinkish color that we used for some accents in the dances.

I learned the most important lesson was that lighting isn’t something someone can do on their own. They need to work with everyone else (costumer designer, choreographer, sound, etc.).

Mar 31

Light Plots

This week, I worked to help prepare for the two upcoming shows: The Dance Concert and the ITP show. We hung some lights, and I learned how to use stencils to create a neat light plot that is easy to follow. Different lights are represented by different shapes. They are drawn on a map of the stage with the electrics on. The stencils must match the scale so the lights can be hung in the correct place. Attached is the light plot that I drew out the lights on.

Mar 22

The Rivers of Light

This week, we have begun to work on the lights for the ITP and the dance concert, but this is not the focus this week’s blog post.

Last week during spring break, I traveled to Walt Disney World in Orlando. While there, I saw the Rivers of Light show in Animal Kingdom. Earlier this year, I had listened to Hillary Rosen talked about this show, because she helped design it. I really loved the show because it was amazing to see how lights can be used in ways outside of theatre or dance. The lights really helped tell the story. They were able to project light onto a screen of water and the images looked amazing. It was so cool to see that because I hadn’t seen anything like it. There were so many moving parts and lights used in the show. There were lights on the flowers that changed color and each color blended together well to create the show.

I remember Mrs. Rosen talking about the different challenges they faced in designing this show. The show takes place on a lake and water is a big part of the show. The designers had to work with the lights to make sure they were not going to be damaged by the water, but still work normally. They had to but special covers over the lights and had to design them to not affect the lights. She also talked about how they had to synchronize all the lights so they would work right with each other. They are all connected so no one has to operate a board during the show. I feel like I was able to better appreciate how incredible the show is because of hearing her speak, and I am very happy I got the opportunity to.

Overall, I loved seeing this because it shows how light can be used beyond what people think of in the normal sense. There are so many ways to use lights, and the possibles grows as technology grows too. I wanted to include two videos I took of two really cool parts of the show, but the files were too big to upload, so there is a link below to a video of the whole show  that someone else filmed. If anyone has to chance to see the show in person I definitely recommend it.


Mar 08

Lights in Kenan

This week I worked with some of the students in Mr. Kavanagh’s Technical Theatre class to test out how some ellipsoidal lights would look in different places in Kenan. I work with three different lenses (36 degrees, 26 degrees, and 19 degrees), and we tested them in three different locations (the catwalk, the balcony and the SR alcove). These are my notes from that.

From the balcony

36°- hung in the center SR of the projector

Too big- hits above and below the stage

26 °- hung in the center SR of the projector

Too big- hits above and below the stage

19°- hung in the center SR of the projector

Big- hits end of the stage (still on the stage) to just under most upstage black curtains

Width: 295 inches

Egg shaped (angle is weird)

Alcove- SR

36°- hung on the second beam side closest to the wall in the center

Too big- hit the opposite wall and spilled offstage to the audience

26°- hung on the 3rd beam on side closest to wall in the center

Oval shape and hits midstage right around proscenium then goes to offstage left

Width: 219 inches and height: 40 ft

19°- hung on the second beam side  closest to the wall at in the middle

Oval/egg shape and angled so hitting  around the proscenium and middle of SL

Width: 134 inches and height: 286 inches


36°- hung slightly SR on the bottom beam in the center

Egg shaped, hits end of stage to a little bit of the upstage black curtain

Width:  23ft 10 inches and height: 37 ft and 2 inches


26°- hung slightly SR on the bottom beam in the center

Oval shape- from a little bit before the end of stage to almost hitting the black curtain

Width: 17 ft 3 inches and height: 26 ft 8 inches

19°- hung slightly SR on the bottom beam in the center

Oval shape- only hits the stage

Width: 150.5 inches and height 249 inches


While doing this I released I didn’t know much about the different types of lights so I did some outside research. I started by focusing on reading about ellipsoidal, but I also looked into other types of lights. These are the websites i used to read up on the lights.





Feb 28

Jean Rosenthal

This week, I looked into how lighting design is applied to dance shows. I read a couple of articles about this topic.

In one from the Guardian, I read about how light does more than just make the dancers visible, it is actually part of the show. The lights are like the choreography, they evolve and change during the process. In the end they help tell the story, and they compliment the dancers. Two lighting designers mentioned are Lucy Carter and Wayne McGregor. The article discusses how they work to create the lights. Carter uses computers to help her design the lights, while McGregor still uses paper. Each of them have their own way to work, but both create amazing lighting designs.

In an article from the New York Times, it takes about the how lights are seen by the audience. People expect certain things to happen when the lights. Lights used to be basic, but have adapted to become a big part of the show. They have amplify the choreography. Lighting designers are shifting from what is traditionally used to new techniques.

The main focus of this blog post is on Jean Rosenthal. She was born in 1908 and attended college at the Yale University School of Drama where she studied lighting. She was called the “Mother of dance lighting techniques” because she is the first person to take lighting design and make it a formal position. She also has been called one of the most influential American lighting designers in the 20th century and I agree. Before her, directors or choreographers were in charge of light, but she changed that. She worked on many dance shows and some musicals, including Cabaret, Fiddler on the Rood, and West Side Story. She worked with Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre Project,Tyrone Guthrie Theater, the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut and many other impressive groups. Not only did she make lighting design a position, she really changed the way it was used. She used it to enhance performances. She used the color, form, and movement of light to aide what is happening on the stage. One of the main techniques she came up with was the elimination of shadows on the stage. She uses a lot of upstage lighting and diagonal lighting to accomplish this, and before she did this it was unheard of to use such lighting. Now it is a very common thing to do in performances. She believed that good lighting should go unnoticed by people, but she wanted people to be impressed by the atmosphere. It meant the use of lights was not specifically noticeable, but it was valuable. She preferred dance shows because they gave her more freedom and allowed for more creativity than musicals. She used dramatic side light to help really show the dancers. Many of the techniques she used were unheard of at that time, but are now very common ways to light shows. She was a very impressive women, who had a huge impact on lighting design.


The articles I read were






Jean Rosenthal




And I watched



Feb 21


First please come see Merrily We Roll Along tonight, tomorrow night or Saturday! There has been a lot of work put into the show by many different people so if possible come out and support the DA Theatre program!

Another part of lighting is Sidelight. Sidelight is what it sounds like: light that comes from the side. It helps provide visibility, add dimensionality, and helps direct the audiences focus. Sidelight can be very useful when there are walls or ceilings in the set designs, so all places on the stage can be lit and not look flat.

Overhead sidelight is the most used type of sidelight. In order to get a successful sidelight a couple of things must happen. One, it needs to make sure to help the needs of the production. If the show needs light to hit a certain place and it doesn’t then the lighting designs have failed. Two, there must be enough lights to cover the whole area. If there isn’t enough light or the wrong type it can mess up how the lights look and end up not looking good. They have to make sure not to hit an masking or any places that are not supposed to be lit. It can also create a shadow from the actor if not used carefully, so you must be careful when using sidelight to not create a strange or unwanted shadow. Third on each side of the stage, the lights must be the same: including beams, placement, angle, and instrument types. So they blend together well enough that it looks like its all from the same source. If one side looks different then the other it can through the look off.

Feb 15

Focusing Lights

This week I have learned about focusing lights.

Once lights have been hung, they must be focused so they can hit the stage in the correct way. To start the lights must be turned on so the lights can be seen since you can’t focus a light where you can’t see where it is hitting. First the light must be placed so it hits in the correct location. Whether its frontlight, backlight or sidelight, the lights are designed so the lights hit a certain place to create a certain effect. If the light is off where it was supposed to hit, then the effect will not happen. So first the light is shifted or moved slightly so it is correctly placed on the beam.

The pan must also be corrected. The pan nut is a little nut on the side that rotates around. If a light needs to be rotated more or less, the pan nut is loosened and the light can rotate. Then the tilt of the light will need to be fixed. Using the nob on the side of the light the tilt can be corrected. Tilting a light down more will create a more shadows down and tilting up will make more of a shadow behind the subject.

Once the light is correctly placed, the focus must be changed. The focus of the light effects how big the light is and whether the edges of the light is blurry or sharp. Blurry light helps blend together better, and sharp edges are good for specials or follow spots on people.

The last part of focusing lights is the gels and the patterns put in the lights. Gels change the color of the lights. Colors can help set the tone or the mood for the scene or can help something stand out. Patterns can help change the shape of the light.

Once one light is focused, we must move onto the next light until every light is focuses. For some lights they must be matched so they look the same and blend together well. It is best to focus one right after the other so they can match.

Feb 08


This week we had another hang session for the lights for the show Merrily We Roll Along. But the focus of this post will be on some of what I have been researching on my own. I have been doing my research from the book A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting by Steven Louis Shelley.

One of the main types of lights is called frontlight. Frontlight is the lights that is front of the focus point. Their main uses is to direct where to look and to help the audience see the actors on stage.Since most scenes of the important don’t happen too far upstage, lighting the whole stage with great lighting isn’t always necessary. But even though frontlight isn’t as important as some of the other types of light, it is still a big part of lighting. It is good to use it to provide basic illumination to the stage.

One type of frontlight is straight frontlight. Straight frontlight is light that is pointed straight to the stage. It is usually hung so the light beam will it directly downstage of focus points. When it comes to making sure the lights have a good wash that can reach the whole area, it is better to use a bigger beam than you think you need over a smaller one. With shutters, a bigger beam can easily be made smaller if needed, but it is much harder to make a smaller beam bigger. If the light beams are correct in size, there will be an even wash and the light beams will blend together as one light.

Another type is diagonal frontlight. Diagonal frontlight is when the lights are hung so they are about a 45 degree angle from the both sides of the actor on the stage.  It is mostly used to help fill in shadows or help with visibility. Using side booms can be a great way to do diagonal frontlight. When doing this lighting type, you must be careful with what type of instruments you use since it can be hard to control and shape diagonal frontlight, Ellipsoidals are the best kind of light for this since they are easy to rotate.

Next week, we will finish up the lights for the show, and I will do some more research so check back next Friday for the next post!

Feb 01

Learning to read Light Plots

This week, we started to hang the lights for the upcoming show, Merrily We Roll Along.

A light plot is a map of the stage that has the electrics on it. On this, lighting designers will draw out where they want each light to be hung for a show. They draw different shapes for different lights, so they can distinguish what type of light is needed where. They also write in the lights what address they are to be plugged into. The address matters because when someone goes to pull up the light they have to use the address. If the address is wrong the light will not come up.

The light plot was created by Andy Parks, someone outside of DA who does them for all the shows. He drew it out and gave it to us to hung. Because of this I got to learn how to read a light plot. After looking at all the lights, we had to decide what would be the best place to start hanging lights. Since some on the lights had to line up with each other, we measured out where those would go on the ground. Then we decided to start on the second electric since it was easily accessible and had a good amount of lights on it. We sent someone up in the lift and started to hang lights. From the ground, I looked at where exactly they were supposed to go and help the person up in the lift put them in the right spot. Then I would look and the drawing and figure out what angle and direction they should be pointed. Finally, I had to say what address they were going to be plugged into. Once a light is hung, we highlight on the plot so we know it is correct.

Learning to read a light plot was a good first step. This was important for me to learn because when I design my own light plots, I am going to need to take into consideration all of the things that are needed. Seeing this one will help a lot with that.


This is the light plot for Merrily We Roll Along

Jan 29

My First Post

The semester started last week so I have just began my independent study. I have mainly started with doing research in the book A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting by Steven Louis Shelley. I have started to learn about backlight which is a type of light that comes from behind the object being lite.

There are a few different kinds of backlight including straight backlight, diagonal blacklight ( equidistant and pipe ends), fan backlight and fan cross backlight. These kinds are determined by where the light is hung and the angle of the light.

There are a lot of things to consider when picking what kind of light and where to hang it. Each light has different field diameters, distances and illumination based on what type it is and how its hung. Lights must be hung in a way so there is a single wash zone. That can be created by making sure the edge of the second beam hits the middle of the first beam. The wider the field diameter the less lights need to be used to cover the stage which makes it easier to hang and focus.

This is just the beginning of what I am learn, and I will continue to share it with you as I learn more.