Spotlight on Lighting Supervisor Kaili Story

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November 7, 2018

Spotlight on Lighting Supervisor Kaili Story

Hubbard Street’s danc(e)volve: New Works Festival premiering in December at the Harris Theater features the talents of Hubbard Street’s artists; but not just as choreographers and dancers. Hubbard Street’s production staff will also be designing all aspects of danc(e)volve including costumes and lights! Today we are shining the spotlight on Lighting Supervisor Kaili Story who is designing the lighting for each of the pieces in danc(e)volve. 

Tell us about your duties as Lighting Supervisor at Hubbard Street?

The Lighting Supervisor is in charge of maintaining the lighting for the 40 years of repertoire within the company. When we remount shows I go into our files and pull out the original light plot, and my job is to maintain the integrity of the original design. When we do new work, I shadow the lighting designer so that when we go on tour or bring the work back in the future, I can make sure we uphold the intentions of the designer.


Kaili Story. Photo by Juli Del Prete.

How is being the designer for this series differ from your role as lighting supervisor?

While the supervisor maintains the designers’ intent, the designer is collaborating with the choreographers to create the language of the design and create the world that the piece lives in. As the designer, I get to make more decisions about the design and create the light plot from scratch based on what the choreographer and I have discussed.

This is your first time designing the lighting for Hubbard Street, what is exciting about that?

I originally went to undergrad to be a dancer and Hubbard Street was a company I looked up to, kind of the dream job. In undergrad I took a course that inspired me to switch to major in lighting design, and when I got the Lighting Supervisor job here and now designing the lighting for this series, the little girl inside of my felt like I was living part of that dream. 

What has the process been like working with the choreographers so far?

It has been a great process! We are spoiled because the choreographers and I already have a relationship with one another.  I go on tour with the company  so we already have a familiarity with each other which really fed into the collaborative environment for this series.

Tell us about the concepts for the lighting for each piece and how you can up with your inspiration?

Process for Rena Butler's III. Third: 

I start my process with wordbanking. Rena gave me words like "gridlock," “migration,” “desolate,” “borders,” “angles,” “destroying,” and “rebuild”. I tend to think more in terms of pictures and art, so after hearing these words I started looking for visual images to give us a shared language to help visualize the lighting.  In Rena’s piece there is going to be this explosion or moment of change, and we decided that it wasn’t until then that we would bring  color into the world. After that explosion, red begins to bleed into the space and changes the environment.

Process for Florian Lochner's Das Feld:

Florian’s piece is about life and death, but he is showing it in reverse from death to life so that trajectory is the inspiration for the lighting design. There’s also this idea of “compressing humanity” so we are going to lower in the electrics so the dancers will be feeling the weight of those lights. As we transition from death to life color starts to come into the space in light blue hues and the electrics lift up transitioning into really bright white light towards the end.

Process for Alice Klock's Fold Me:

Alice’s piece is about the idea of parallel lives and the idea that versions of ourselves might be refracted or folded over time, dimensions, and space. Her idea of folding immediately made me think of  ink blot tests and how each person’s perceptions differ looking at them. That led me to the idea of source and shadow and how shadows and lighting can change the perception of what you are seeing.

What are the next steps will you take once we get closer to putting these pieces on stage?

Now that I have enough ideas about the worlds that the choreographers and I want to create, I’m sitting in on rehearsals and I’ll start creating what are called exploratory worksheets where I will be working with the drawings of the stage and looking at what happens when I put lights in different places, seeing what effect each light would have on the space and how that relates to my research. Then the next step after the exploratory worksheets is to create the light plot, really putting together the pieces of the puzzle, choosing which lights go where and what color they need to be.

How do you think that lighting and dance work together or what makes the lighting an important aspect of a dance piece?

I like to tell people to imagine a coloring book or a sketch, that’s like seeing dance in the studio setting. Then think of all the ways you could paint or color in that sketch, there’s so many different colors you could use and so many ways to fill in that sketch. That's what lighting design does, it paints the picture to evoke a world the dance lives in.

Kaili's lighting designs can be seen in full form at danc(e)volve: New Works Festival at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance on December 6, 8 + 9. Visit the danc(e)volve webpage to purchase your tickets and learn more about the choreographers. Keep checking back for more behind the scenes blog posts about danc(e)volve! 

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