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Dustin L. Derry Powers Emotions in Pasión Oculta with ChamSys

Dustin L. Derry Powers Emotions in Pasión Oculta with ChamSys
Dustin L. Derry Powers Emotions in Pasión Oculta with ChamSys

USA – Irma Suarez-Ruiz had one request for Dustin L. Derry when she asked him to light her dance composition Pasión Oculta, which premiered at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts this summer. She told him to “think big.” The artistic director of Ensemble Español, Suarez-Ruiz wasn’t thinking in terms of a giant rig replete with special effects when she proffered this advice. Her words had more to do with the visual impact and emotional force of his design than its size.

Derry, who has been working with Ensemble Español since 2015, did not let his friend and colleague down. His lighting for the sensual six-minute Flamenco-style dance piece glows with raw passion and the aching yearning that boils at the heart of this dance narrative as it swirls around hidden desires. Yet, at the same time, his design also flows gracefully with the dance’s five couples as they move on stage.

Helping Derry achieve this balance is his ChamSys MagicQ MQ500 Stadium console, a tool that he finds indispensable. “For me as a dance designer, it is all about timing,” he said. “Timing is a massive part of what I do. Following dancers that all move at slightly different speeds, but land at the same time, would have been next to impossible for me if ChamSys didn’t make precise timing so easy.”

Designing for Pasión Oculta involved a two-step process before tech week for Derry. “I started with Vector Works for designing the plot, projection, rigging, etc.,” he said. “Then I exported the lighting data to my ChamSys via CSV, and also to Capture 2019. After that, stage two involved working in Capture and using mostly MQ PC on my desktop with a PC wing to create conceptual renderings. A really good thing about ChamSys is that its consoles interface so smoothly with so many different types of design software.

“When doing shows in rep and constantly changing how that rep is performed, organization of data is everything,” continued Derry. “In this respect ChamSys shines, not just for this show, but for all my work. Another thing I really appreciate about ChamSys is the media server interface and being able to control media servers. We often have a variety of projection content with and without sound. The media window makes manipulation of that content nice and simple.”

A ChamSys user since 2006, when he had “nothing but a USB dongle and a touchscreen Toughbook laptop,” Derry invariably uses MagicQ consoles to run his shows. In addition to the MQ500 he worked with on Pasión Oculta, he has an MQ80 that he takes on tours when size restrictions preclude carrying the larger desk.

Although the console Derry uses remains constant, the lighting fixtures at different venues vary. For the debut of Pasión Oculta, he was impressed by the eight Chauvet Professional Rogue R2 Washes in his rig.

“I have found the Rogue R2 Wash units to be the perfect balance of size and punch to complement today’s modern dance rep,” he said. “They are big and bright enough that you can sneak one out of the wash as a soft edge special, and then have it blend right back into the background. I actually chose the Rogues because of their color range, specifically the red emitter. It’s a little more saturated and does wonderful things for deep purples that I can’t find in other units.”

Derry also valued the opportunity to work with gifted collaborators on Pasión Oculta. “The people made this special,” he said. “I enjoyed working with all the dancers, and Irma is brilliant. Jose Torres, the first dancer, is always inspiring to be around.”

The biggest challenge Derry faced in lighting Pasión Oculta, as he does in almost every project, is time. “I find myself with really lofty ideas and concepts on the order of 200 cues,” he said. “But I have to scale back because we have only one or two hours of tech time and the piece is only six minutes. This is where the user-friendliness of the ChamSys comes in handy. It’s important to have a sense of balance and a good desk!”

Dustin L. Derry Powers Emotions in Pasión Oculta with ChamSysDustin L. Derry Powers Emotions in Pasión Oculta with ChamSys

22nd July 2019

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