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Home > Choreography

Lighting Inspiration

When attending a performance, one of the most dramatic distinctions in any performance, is the stage lighting. Stage lighting sets cues, and helps paint the picture the creator envisioned. It carries out the dance as it were a dream and makes it a spectacle rather than mere movement. If used creatively, it can add to the success of the production. Lighting design is actually mapped out, depending on how complicated the production is.

Typically the stage is broken down into a number of areas when considering a lighting design. Lighting is something that is calculated and cued just as much as the dance itself. The timing and intensity of it is extremely important. Lighting not only sets the mood, but more importantly, the atmosphere of the entire production.

The artistic director of a production is in charge of explaining the lighting to the lighting director. A choreographer sometimes also commands the design; especially if they envisioned a particular set up when creating the dance. The lighting designer ultimately decides on the best set up, but is in high communication with the choreographer and/or artistic director of a production/number during lighting rehearsal.

The stage is equipped with a multitude of lights coming from several angles and set in several different sizes and films. A film is a color or texture that the light flows through. Films can create quite an atmosphere; from red light to a water effect. it can also block the light to appear in sectional flows. A light can make an actual set as well.


Lighting can create several different dramatic effects, such as shadowing, silhouette, blocked sectional lighting, overhead spotlight, bright heavy light or low-level lighting. There are many components to lighting the stage.

  • Generally, all stage lighting has to do with the lighting of the performer. Performers tend to work in areas, so they are mainly lit with spotlights. Spotlights are basically concentrated pools of light in one area. A spotlight can be moved around to follow the performer.

  • After lighting the performer, it may or may not be necessary to provide additional lighting to the surrounding stage. It depends on if there’s a set or not.

  • Backgrounds/backdrops should all be illuminated separately from the actor and from the set.

empty stage

Lighting can get very complicated for a stage manager and an artistic director. The director is appointed a set amount of time with the lighting manager. Together, they work out all the possibilities and cues, then they rehearse these cues with the performers at dress rehearsal.

The dramatic emphasis that lighting gives, is important and necessary to every stage production. Lighting design should be studied by every choreographer. The more tools we have, the more success we have.

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