University of Nevada, Las Vegas Dance Department
Alta Hamm Fine Arts 111 and Youtube; November 2020
Choreography: Cierra Watchel
Lighting Design: Catherine M. Pratt
Photography: Louis Kavouras
Look Here! is part of This Moment of Movement virtual dance concert at UNLV.
Choreographer Cierra Wachtel wanted to explore the theme of becoming comfortable in our own skin in her piece Skin Shed. She also wanted to focus on the journey each individual travels through life as they constantly learn and evolve as human beings.
My lighting for the piece was motivated by the lifelong journey each of us goes on through life. We learn, we grow, we adapt, and we become comfortable with who we are. While this journey goes on throughout life, it also happens moment to moment for us. Meeting new people and the experiences we face allow us to continue to grow and evolve into who we are. Throughout life, there is also a sense of lightness and darkness. When we lose our comfort and confidence, it is easy to fade into the shadows, lost with who we are. Yet, as we grow and adapt to our surroundings, light comes back through the return of confidence and comfort. As we grow older, there also becomes a sense of calmness surrounding who we are. Through the past, we become known for who we are. There is no longer the need to constantly impress those around us. This creates the peace and tranquility we all long for, the comfort with who we are, and the enjoyment of the journey life has taken us on.
In research for this production, the image of lava flowing from amber to reds to blues captured this journey and growth in comfort. The lines created from the lava flow brought forth the chaos that can surround us, especially as we are trying to discover who we are. The color combinations created the depth and space to portray the different parts of the journey we face through life and over the course of each day.
This piece started out in darkness and slowly opened up to a silhouette of the dancers in their skin costumes. Movement was rapid and quick, highlighting the struggle of trying to push past what is holding us back from comfort and confidence. The lighting slowly opened up to sculpt the body while movement speed increased to give the sense of growth to be their own self. Dancers then ripped off the skin to start being comfortable with themselves.
Once the skins came off, the lighting shifted to reds. While there is no longer the skin barrier holding back movement, it can be challenging to face these new environments. Hesitation, being unsure, and longing for the past are obstacles that need to be faced. As confidence and comfort with the new skin and being were found, lighting transitioned to calm and peaceful blues. While the journey may stop at the comfort, oranges came back in the end to continue the circle we all face, as the journey continues, and new challenges force us to grow and shed our skin again and again.
Throughout the piece, lighting contrasted the sharp, angular movement created through the choreography. Movement brought out how we must each learn to be comfortable and shed our skin in each moment and experience we face. Slow transitions and color changes were used through the lighting to provide the sense of the journey we travel each day and throughout life. Both daily and over the years, we must shed our skin to continue to grow throughout the course of life.