Northern School of Contemporary Dance

Image: Brian Slater


Lighting for Dance (2014)

Lighting for Dance saw the first collaborative performance between RADA and Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. 

Three choreographers were paired up with students from RADA on the Postgraduate Diploma in Stage Electrics and Lighting design programme. RADA’s demanding technical course runs for four terms and focusses on all the elements that go into a career in the world of Lighting for performance. Led by Head of Lighting Design, Matt Prentice, the course gives students the opportunity to be taught by a range of lecturers and work with industry professionals on varied performance types. Matt explained that ‘this project is about offering mutual support from within the Conservatoire; giving Rambert School a technical provision that they might not otherwise have and giving our students the chance to work with a different type of performer [contemporary dancers].’

Student Cillian McNamara explained why he loved lighting the stage, ‘I look for the opportunity to create moments that the audience will walk away with.’

Three dance pieces were selected and each one offered the lighting designers different ideas and worlds to explore. The collaboration had been condensed to a week, meaning that it had been a real challenge for both dancers and designers, not unusual in the professional world of theatre.

‘For us it’s a unique collaboration working with dancers, the style of lighting required is different to what we are used to. It is an alternative type of storytelling which is less about naturalism, the focus is not just the face but the whole body. It has been really fun, something new to learn.’

Sam House, RADA student

‘It has been a fast process and a good opportunity; it was exciting to talk to lighting designers and push my work further. As a choreographer I am finding my individual voice and this process has been really collaborative. I have made some useful connections here.’

Dixie Webb-Heller, Rambert student

Principal and Artistic Director of Rambert School Amanda Britton said of the experience, ‘This collaboration with RADA is a first for us and is definitely something we would like to continue.’

RADA Lighting students have also worked with London Contemporary Dance School postgraduate performance company EDge, lighting their 2013 photoshoot. Students lit new works by Ben Wright (‘A Power to Bring Light into a Darkened Room’), Joe Moran (‘Subject to Change’) and a re-staging of Yael Flexer’s work ‘The Living Room’, all of which was photographed by Ivar Sviestins.


Images: RADA/Rambert collaboration