When everything goes well, one thing that you don’t notice about a dance performance is all the preparation that has been done beforehand. In addition to the dancers’ rehearsals and the choreography, there is an immense amount of work done to provide light, sound, staging, and costumes. For example, all that the dancers are wearing is designed and created by Jean-Louise England of WSU’s Performing Arts Department. The costumes worn at the end of the performance mimic the paper that the dancers are using, as each costume portrays an origami-inspired set of folds.
Before any performance, dancers typically spend 4 hours (or more) working with the stage crew on “tech.” This is the time necessary to make sure that lighting, sound, and other logistical stage elements are in order to make the performance come to life. Sound cues have to be synchronized with the dancers’ movement, and lighting has to be planned and timed so that it emphasizes each phrase and position of the each dancer. During the performance, there are lots of people making sure that the sound and light are all being cued and changed according to the needs of the choreography.
Here’s an example. In this case, the dancers are backlit so that we get to see their silhouettes.
This particular spotlight makes a very clear reflection on the floor that the dancers can see, and they noticed during rehearsal that the reflection seems to follow them around on the stage. This is because the light is actually reflecting on all of the points on the stage, but they only see the one reflection that actually gets to their eyes. You can see the same thing when looking into a mirror or another reflective surface.
In the following case, you’ll notice that there are bluish lights above, and bright yellow lights from the side. These are combined so that you can see the dancers and their paper from the front, and also so that there’s a particular effect. Because there is lighting from all directions, there are very few shadows on the dancers themselves.