1st Edition

Contemporary Dance Lighting The Poetry and the Nitty-Gritty

By Carol M. Press, Vickie J. Scott Copyright 2023
    270 Pages 23 Color & 52 B/W Illustrations
    by Focal Press

    270 Pages 23 Color & 52 B/W Illustrations
    by Focal Press

    270 Pages 23 Color & 52 B/W Illustrations
    by Focal Press

    Contemporary Dance Lighting: The Poetry and the Nitty-Gritty dynamically guides students toward aesthetically, creatively, and skillfully becoming lighting designers for dance in the 21st century.

    The book is organized in three parts, covering everything from the aesthetic considerations of lighting for dance to the tools and technology designers use to create compelling artistry. Part I, "Beginnings" establishes context, explaining the structure of the book and illuminating the history of contemporary dance and lighting. Part II, "The Poetry" elaborates on the key artistic and aesthetic elements of contemporary dance lighting: visual narrative; controllable functions and qualities of light; use of space, color, and time; importance and intricacies of collaboration; and continual effects and evolution of technology. Part III, "The Nitty-Gritty" steers students through the technical knowledge and skills necessary to design lighting, including understanding your tools and positioning instruments; creating layered light plots; organizing extensive paperwork; and archiving. The dance Artifice, choreographed by Jerry Pearson, is sequentially explored throughout the book to convey key concepts. "Further Reflections" conclude each chapter, written by a diverse group of renowned professionals, inviting young designers directly into the world of lighting design.

    This textbook is for use in Lighting Design and Design for Dance Lighting courses at the university level, along with professional training programs.

    Part 1: Beginnings  1. Book Design  2. History Lights Our Way. Further Reflections by Vickie J. Scott  Part 2: The Poetry  3. Visual Narrative. Further Reflections by Mark Stanley  4. Controllable Qualities and Functions. Further Reflections by Richard Dunham  5. Space. Further Reflections by Japhy Weideman  6. Color. Further Reflections by James E. Streeter  7. Time. Further Reflections by Jennifer Tipton  8. Collaboration. Further Reflections by Nancy Colahan  9. Technology. Further Reflections by Dr. Thomas F. DeFrantz  Part 3: The Nitty-Gritty  10. Your Tools. Further Reflections by Todd Proffitt  11. Your Light Plot and Paperwork. Further Reflections by Beverly Emmons  Appendix 1. USITT Recommended Practices for Theatrical Lighting Design Graphics  Appendix 2. Endless Questions for You as a Collaborator  Appendix 3. Sweet Summer Suite: Original Notes, Light Plot, and Paperwork  Appendix 4. Stage Managing for Dance: A Guide for UCSB Dance Concerts  Appendix 5. Suggested Further Reading


    Carol M. Press, EdD earned her doctorate from Columbia Teachers College in Dance Education and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Press is a choreographer, performer, scholar, writer, and teacher whose choreographies have been shown internationally. She is the author of The Dancing Self: Creativity, Modern Dance, Self Psychology and Transformative Education, and co-editor with Dr. Edward Warburton of Creating Dance: A Traveler’s Guide. Currently, Dr. Press teaches Dance History and Dance Education in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Vickie J. Scott earned graduate degrees in Lighting Design and Technical Direction at the School of Theater, Film and Television at the University of California, Los Angeles. She creates lighting and scenic designs for dance and theater throughout the US and abroad, and she is the resident lighting designer and production coordinator for the Ojai Playwrights Conference, the chairperson of the Advisory Board for The California Arts Project (TCAP), a member of the United Scenic Artists local 829, and the founding director of the Initiative for New and Reimagined Work in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she currently teaches and works as a designer.

    "To many who make their lives on the stage, lighting remains a mystery. Talking about lighting is even more of a mystery. Contemporary Dance Lighting: The Poetry and the Nitty-Gritty reveals how lighting for dance is a masterful duet of visual storytelling between lighting designer and choreographer. It lays the foundation of common terminology and the basis for all communication between collaborators. The use of the first-person narrative invites the reader in and makes it much less intimidating to students new to lighting. From the step-by-step realized process between the designer and choreographer to the further reflections by professionals, this book will be an important addition to any lighting class, lighting designer or choreographers' library. The authors showcase the value of collaboration at the core of making art."

    Jennifer Read, Chair, Department of Theatre and Dance, Los Angeles Valley College

    "Far from your ordinary dry textbook, Contemporary Dance Lighting: The Poetry and the Nitty-Gritty is both personable and informative. A must-have resource for teachers and their students: future designers and choreographers, who are often the same person looking to illuminate the possibilities of the human form. The text allows you to shift between sections as your inspiration propels you."

    Angelia Leung, Interim Chair, Department of World Arts and Culture/Dance, University of California, Los Angeles

    "Contemporary Dance Lighting: The Poetry and the Nitty-Gritty illuminates the under discussed world of lighting for dance. The authors, a designer and a choreographer, combine their talents to shine light on how a student can grow into lighting dance creatively, effectively, and—most importantly—vibrantly."

    Ilana Morgan, Associate Professor, Department of Dance, Texas Woman's University

    "Contemporary Dance Lighting: The Poetry and the Nitty-Gritty is a rare textbook in the arts that can interweave conceptual ideas with technical details. This very useful and interactive guide for students, designers, and choreographers, brings those two realms together in order to focus on the importance of collaboration and the necessity of connecting seeing with feeling – whether you are onstage or behind the lights."

    Jen Groseth, Lighting and Sound Designer, Youth Performing Arts School, Louisville, KY, Collaborator, with Ann Cooper Albright, on Dancing with Light, https://www.wesleyan.edu/wespress/tracesoflight/

    "Contemporary Dance Lighting: The Poetry and the Nitty-Gritty shakes up learning about lighting design with not only breadth and depth, but humor. The authors’ artistic passions shine through in the text, providing clarity toward the tools and processes of lighting design for dance."

    Noah J. Files, Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Theatre, Northern State University

    “I highly recommend Contemporary Dance Lighting as a must-read for anyone involved in the worlds of dance and design, whether as a choreographer, educator, lighting or media designer, performer or student. With its rich blend of historical context, practical advice, technical sophistication and artistic inspiration, the book serves as a beacon for those seeking to understand the art of lighting design in the dynamic landscape of contemporary dance.”

    Dr. Edward C. Warburton, Professor of Dance, University of California at Santa Cruz, Journal of Dance Education (forthcoming)