iLuminate brings the show, "Artist of Light" to Broadway on July 18th
If you’re looking for a New York show that goes beyond your typical song and dance (both literally and figuratively), then you might want head north of Times Square towards New World Stages for a little Off-Broadway show titled “Artist of Light.” Fronted by the talented and creative individuals at iLuminate Productions, the show craftily blends well-timed light technology with modern dance choreography to create a light anecdote involving neon-colored caricatures as they fly, leap and crawl through various music genres and story-lines. Albeit, simplistic plot line (young man tries to find himself through art) and sound effects that are mostly geared towards a younger generation (a.k.a. ravers in training), the production’s unique visual setup is a vision to behold. There's also a cavalcade of musical gems that feature banger house, techno and dubstep numbers, which makes crowds happy. For times and ticket information, head to the show's website and follow the jump to read VIBE’s exclusive interview with iLuminate founder and creative director Miral Kotb as she talks touring with David Guetta and her love of EDM.
VIBE: What can we expect from your performance?
Miral Kotb: A very clear marriage of music and technology. You’ll see how not only is the dancing done with these lights – all these illusions – but how musical it is. The way all the movement and light cues are written, it kind of melds into the music.
How did you come to found iLuminate?
I’m a software engineer and a dancer. I’ve been doing both since I was really young. For me, I would always dance from my heart whenever I wanted to express something or whenever I wanted to say something. If I had a bad day or a great day, I would express it through dance. Then with writing software, that was more to just challenge me mentally and to solve problems. But the two [dancing and software engineering] were always separate, and it wasn’t until I started iLuminate that I put the two together, and it was because I wanted to see what I could do to bring my two different worlds together seamlessly and in a way that would be entertaining. There’s not really much conflict between the two. I think, if anything, I become a stronger software developer and a stronger dancer/choreographer the more I marry the two. And also you find that the more people that I work with within the company, the more I realize how inspired the dancers are by the technicians, and the technicians are by the dancers.
That seems to be a growing trend these days to marry art and technology. Did you look to any outside examples while creating your own personal union of the two?
Yeah, it’s been for years now I’ve noticed that slowly people are discovering technology within the arts community. I think this marriage makes a lot of sense because technology is just a different medium for art. It was just a natural progression that we would find a way to express ourselves through different technologies.
Where do find inspiration for your choreography/projects?
As a dancer, I find a lot inspiration from [William] Forsythe. He does a lot of technology and dance in his own way, and I found it really interesting to see what he would do with the two. I think the most inspiration I get is from whom I work with. The choreographers and people in the technical departments inspire me, because we’re always coming up with new ideas and we’re always feeding off of each other. That’s probably at this point my biggest form of inspiration.
Would you ever consider taking this show on tour, even with a particular DJ/producer?
We’ve actually done performances with people like David Guetta. He invited us on one of his shows in Miami (this past April), and it was a huge success. A lot of our dancers know how to freestyle really well, they come from an underground scene and they love dancing to EDM, so I think it would be great to do a tour where we can get the dancers to move to the style of the DJ spinning. It would become a visual representation of the music, not just from their body movement but also from the light choreography.
Do you have any favorite DJs at the time being?
I used to listen to really old school house. Danny Tenaglia is probably my favorite DJ, and Daft Punk for sure. Also, deadmau5 and Skrillex.
Do you also compose your own music for the show?
We hire people. We had a classical composer to bring in that element, as well as musical director who does more underground music.
Do you put a strong emphasis on creating all original content?
No. I want to grow and develop this venture. I’m actually thinking about doing an 'Alice in Wonderland' themed show next, but this first show was completely from my heart and head.
What has been your proudest moment in your career so far?
I think it’s when we did the Six Flags show in Atlanta, because that was the first time we did a 20-minute show, and it was really stressful because there were a lot of challenges that we had to face all at once, but the dancers were incredible. It's the first time I saw my vision of having a longer show, despite all the technical difficulties you face when you have electronics on dancers. It’s actually reopening this summer at the same location. “Artist of Light” is actually a longer show, and an even deeper story. We’re really starting to hone in on what reads with the light-suits. We communicate something with the audience and engage them, whether they’re 5 or 95 years old.
What story are you trying to get across through your choreography and show?
Without being cheesy, follow the light within you. It’s a story about somebody who’s really shy and very talented but he doesn’t know how to express himself except when he’s in his element, and while he tries to find his voice he realizes that he’s not alone.