Alvin Ailey dances with ETC Eos® lighting control

Date Posted: 12/18/2008

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

When the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was preparing for its latest world tour, lighting director Al Crawford wanted to get the best and most advanced lighting control system on the market. So he chose the award-winning ETC Eos to replace the dance company's older Obsession® II console, also from ETC.

Alvin Ailey Dance was among the first to use an Eos, which recently won a PLASA Award for Innovation, completing a triple crown of honors (it garnered similar awards at the LDI tradeshow last year and the Showtech tradeshow this past spring). US company 4Wall Entertainment Lighting supplied the Eos system to Ailey and was one of the first rental companies in the world to purchase the consoles.

Eos was designed to handle the most complex lighting rigs, and the Alvin Ailey rig is no exception, with 180 various ETC Source Four® spotlights and 80 Source Four PARs. "We chose the Eos because we'd been with Obsession for 15 years and have over 200 ballets in our repertoire," says Al. "Changing desks posed a significant challenge, because of the inherent and continual translation process, so we needed a desk that could understand the data. In our production we use conventional fixtures, moving lights and scrollers and needed to transfer the massive amount of repertory information seamlessly."

Crawford says that as important as the control system was, the excellent relationship he has with ETC was just as critical: "The Eos product team listens carefully to their end users. For example, there was one time when we had an issue with the software -- not a fault -- but we needed it to operate differently. We contacted ETC and received a software update within 24 hours. They completely supported us during the Eos's tour around the world. That is unprecedented in my book - they truly stepped up to the plate. I cannot forget the ETC folks including Anne Valentino, Dennis Varian, Luke Delwiche, and Victor Seastone. What a team!"

"I must also acknowledge the entire Ailey lighting staff for their dedication to this process of moving to the Eos system. Stuart Nelson, Associate Lighting Director for AAADT, lead the translation and integration process, and I'm so appreciative for his hard work and tireless hours. Thanks also to Michael Cannon and Al Ridella at 4Wall Entertainment Lighting for their dedication to investing in new technology."

Just finishing up in the UK, the company's current tour now continues into France and China. The New York season at New York City Center Theater is from November 28th through December 31st of this year. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater grew from a performance in March 1958, at the 92nd Street Young Men's Hebrew Association in New York. AAADT has gone on to perform for an estimated 21 million people in 71 countries on six continents, including two historic residencies in South Africa. The company has earned a reputation as one of the most acclaimed international ambassadors of American culture, promoting the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of the American modern dance.

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Photo of Ailey Revelations: Andrew Eccles