RAPPERSWIL, SWITZERLAND – A circus is magic. How else to explain how, in a single afternoon, it can turn even the most serious adult into a child, eyes wide open with wonder, marveling at acts that turn reality on its head.
Circus Knie, one of Europe’s oldest and among the world’s most famous circuses has been turning out such moments for over a century. Its just-concluded 2023 season was no exception, as it featured breathtaking acts from dancing horses, to motorcycles spinning around in a sphere at high speeds whilst parallel to the ground
Although few fans may stop to think about it, a circus is also a tribute to fine-tuned precision. This was not only true of every daring feat at Circus Knie, it also applied to the beautiful and meticulous lighting by Axel Melchior that supported every performance.
An example of Melchior’s precise work was beautifully evident in the way he lit the waterfall stage at this year’s Circus Knie. Made up of a circular pond with a waterfall at its center, the stage uses 7,000-liters of water each day. Nimble acrobats perform stunning feats on the surface above the cylindrical waterfall. Accenting their performance, as well as the captivating beauty of the pond and fall, is a collection of 33 CHAUVET Professional COLORado PXL Bar 8 motorized RGBW tilting battens supplied by Dushow.
Initially, Melchior considered using another IP65-rated COLORado model, the PXL Bar 16, but switched to the PXL 8 for a more exact fit around the circular stage. “We wanted a color rendering LED batten with tilt, zoom and pixel mapping that was IP rated,” he recalled. “Our initial thought was the PXL Bar 16, but the layout around the 8m diameter stage didn’t allow us to integrate that product, so we opted for the COLORado PXL Bar 8 instead.”
The decision proved to be an excellent one. Drawing on the color capabilities of the PXL Bar 8, Melchior was able to create a range of moods around the water stage, immersing it in an array of colors, often deeply saturated monochromatic hues.
“We use the wash lights mainly used to illuminate the water during the various effects,” he said. “The PLX’s zoom allows us to obtain the right aperture without over-lighting the rest of the tent. We also light the performers when we don’t have a water effect.
“We’re very pleased with the PXL’s reliability and resistance to tour life,” continued Melchior. “Our water system uses a high-volume recycled water every show, and we never had any problems with the machines.”
Melchior, along with artistic director Géraldine Knie, co-designer Julien Lhomme, and technical advisor John Masson of Dushow are so happy with the performance of the COLORado PXL Bar 8 that they decided to use the fixture again for the 2024 Circus Knie tour.
When they do, we can be sure of two things: the show will delight and amaze children of all ages, and these precisely engineered motorized battens will continue to perform like clockwork.