iLuminate brightens up SU
“America’s Got Talent” finalist, iLuminate, showed Shippensburg University there is more than meets the eye Wednesday, as it transformed a pitch-black stage in H. Ric Luhrs Performing Arts Center into the magical iLuminate Town.
The performance drew in a melting pot of ages. For the entirety of the show, age was practically indistinguishable, as each attendee shared the same youthful look of awe.
“We want every single person to leave with their minds blown,” Lisa Bauford, iLuminate dance captain said. Bauford said iLuminate should not be mistaken for solely a kids show, because it is a show for all ages. The group hopes that the children embrace the ‘magic’ behind the illusions and the adults feel like they, too, are kids again — even if just for a few hours.
With a future as bright as iLuminate, some may forget the up-and-coming group once began as a single light in the dark. Despite its recent fame, iLuminate cherishes the experiences that jumpstarted its career. iLuminate aims to continue lighting up the world through its unique patented mix of dance and technology.
iLuminate was founded by Miral Kotb who, with a degree in software engineering, used her knowledge to fuse her love of technology and dance into one.
“It’s its own beast,” Bauford said refering to iLuminate’s wireless dance technology used in shows.
And the technology that makes what iLuminate does possible is ever-changing because new technological advancements are discovered and incorporated into the production.
“The growth from the beginning has been amazing to see,” Bauford said. “You should have seen some of the original light suits. They were horrible.”
Bauford was not an original member of the iLuminate dance troupe that was featured on season six of “America’s Got Talent.” But she, like the group’s many other new members, was able to take part in iLuminate’s other firsts.
After “America’s Got Talent,” iLuminate transitioned from a condensed and action-packed show on television to a longer performance that incorporates characters and a story line.
“It was a new baby for them,” Bauford said of the change in content.
A lot of thought is put into the production of a single performance, and the group constantly rewrites and adjusts the scripts.
“This show took about three months to get it up and running,” Bauford said. “The first script is never the one that makes it to the stage.”
iLuminate often steps away from the script for a few hours, coming back to it later with a fresh mind and new ideas.
Intertwining dance and technology remains the focus of iLuminate. But by weaving in bits of personality, more is brought to the table.
Dancing in light suits and masks, the dancers embody the characters and are given the artistic freedom to make them their own.
“The audience falls in love with the characters,” Bauford said. “It’s basically your favorite Saturday morning cartoon come to life.”
However, mixing complete darkness and technology adds a sense of unpredictability to the show as well.
“We have no control over the lights whatsoever,” Bauford said. If something goes wrong on stage, and one of the dancer’s lights do not turn on when they are supposed to, they try to play it cool, improvise and try to make it fit the story until they can get to a tech.
“The techs are like ninjas,” Bauford said. “It’s a lot of ninja work.”
Aside from possible technical difficulties, performing in utter darkness is not an easy thing to do.
“Trust is a major factor,” Bauford said. Dancers need to trust that their teammates are where they need to be without hesitation in order for the production to run smoothly, and doing so takes an incredible amount of practice.
Bauford thinks the possibilities are limitless for the future of iLuminate.
“I hope we continue to travel the world,” Bauford said, “and possibly even have our own theater where people come to us.”
“There is longevity for sure. Technology isn’t going anywhere,” Bauford said.
And by the looks of it, neither is iLuminate.