While most people relax or take a vacation during Spring Break, dance production supervisor Brent Sullivan is hard at work in the New College Theatre, loading in for Dancers' Viewpointe 11: Point • View • Voice. Marin Orlosky Randow '07-'08 spoke briefly with Brent about what is involved in the loading-in process, and what he enjoys the most about the busy, sometimes chaotic work of preparing for a performance run.
What is "loading in"?
Load-in is the period of time before we begin the technical rehearsals, when all the technical components of the production are brought into the theater and set up. This includes all the scenery, props, soft goods, lighting equipment, projectors--everything but the dancers. During this time we also hang and focus the lighting, lay down the dance floor and get the space ready for the performers to take the stage during lighting rehearsals.
How does loading in for a dance show differ from loading in for a theater show?
The approach to loading in a dance show is different from loading in for a theater or opera production. Typically dance productions have less scenery to deal with; they are more reliant on sound and lighting to create the environment. You also generally have a smaller crew for dance than you might for other types of productions. Another difference is scheduling: You don't have to schedule lighting calls around scenic calls or paint calls, because generally there aren't any, especially in smaller dance productions.
What are some of the technical challenges unique to Dancers' Viewpointe 11?
Dancers' Viewpointe is always the biggest dance production the OFA Dance Program takes on, and this year is no different. In years past, we have had full orchestras onstage and suspended bars that performers have climbed on and hung from. This year we are bringing aerial silks, projections, and many more props and scenery than we have ever seen onstage for a dance production. Dancers' Viewpointe historically has had one piece in the concert that required more technical elements and planning, but this year, half of the pieces in the concert require additional technical requirements. All of these elements had to be designed and custom-built for the production, which meant a lot more planning went into this year's concert to make sure that all of the elements could be built on time, and that they could all integrate smoothly into the production.
What is your favorite part of loading in and tech week?
Personally, I have always loved sitting in a dark theater at the light board in that brief moment of silence just before the first light is brought up. To me, that is the moment when all the months of planning, drafting, and conversations, and the long hours of loading-in and focusing lights finally become art.
What are you most looking forward to in this process?
Opening night is always a bittersweet moment for me. It is great to finally have the audience there to share in all of the hard work that has gone into the production, but it also feels to me like the moment when the artistic process ends. I love working with choreographers and other artists to create something that will make an audience react. The conversations and discoveries that happen through rehearsals are very important to the process. With this year's production it is hard to nail down one thing that I am looking forward to most; each of the pieces are so diverse and offer such an amazing amount of possibilities.
[Caption: One of Brent Sullivan's lighting designs. Photo by Marcus Stern.]