PRODUCTION - Boys Like Us (excerpt)

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"Boys Like Us considers the vulnerability, isolation, and desire for connection felt by adolescent guys coming into their identity as gay men."

Originally performed in 2018 as a faculty research project, Boys Like Us was created by choreographer Brandon Whited, and has become part of his dance collective, BScott Dance. An excerpt of the duet was set on two UCSB dance students in the summer of 2019, for which I had the privelege of designing. This piece became a part of the full-length Boys Like Us dance concert in October of the same year.

Inspiration + Research

"Boys Like Us draws from the personal experiences of both the dancers and the choreographer in order to delve into the often lonely process of ‘coming out’ as a gay adolescent male. Through pedestrian movement, improvisation and intimate/physical interaction, the piece abstracts this process away from narrative, and instead offers a resonance on a human need for touch, the exploration of new and burgeoning sexual expression, and reflects on the process of forming and evolving identity." - Brandon Whited

Sam von Wentz and Ryan Walker Page, 2018

Andrew Bauer and EzraNolan Spencer, 2019

"I learned to feel nostalgia for my own youth while I was living it." - Edmund White

MUSIC

"Familiar" by Nils Frahm

The excerpt performed in 2019 consisted of two sections: three-minutes of 'posturing' in silence, followed by choreography set to an instrumental track. The music is soft and subtle, with both an underlying melancholic piano tone and a hint of childlike innocence introduced by a xylophone.

VISUALS

The first performance of Boys Like Us in 2018 was very simple in terms of lighting. There were only four light cues in total, consisting of white light in the space and a vibrant purple accent color that intensified as the piece progressed.

Though simplicity and subtlety stayed at the forefront of my mind, I was particularly taken with the idea of chromatic aberration and it's bearing on a sense of split identity that I found in this piece. Particularly thinking of the magenta and royal blue lights I knew were already in my rep plot, I enjoyed the idea of slightly highlighting the edges of the dancers in those saturated colors.

Since the purple light was the only color present in the original duet, it felt important to preserve that and build on it. That, coupled with the light glassy notes in the musical score, brought me to the images of amethyst quartz and the softness of sea glass. My goal was to incorporate those crystaline ideas in the diagonal beams of light that crossed on the stage floor.

Final Production

Boys Like Us (2019) premiered as part of the UCSB Summer Sessions Dance Concert on September 7th. Though the cues were few and simple in nature, it remains one of my favorite pieces of lighting work. The ability to connect with the dancers and choreographer gave me so much more to work with and invest in while I designed.

Once the concert concluded, I reached out to Brandon Whited immediately about being part of the tech crew for the full concert in October, giving me the amazing opportunity to learn from lighting designer Michael Klaers.

It feels safe to say that without this single dance piece, I would not have fallen so hard or so fast with lighting design.

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