BLACKPOOL, UK– Some things in this world succeed in being passed down from generation to generation, always retaining an air of timelessness for posterity. For the last 93 years, the Blackpool Dance Festival competition – the most globally acclaimed international bastion of ballroom dancing – has ensured that the genre continues to have a relevant role in popular culture in the United Kingdom and beyond.
This year, 3,000 couples from 60 nations competed in the prestigious event. Providing them with a stylish and sophisticated visual background was a lighting design by Oliver Wilkinson of Arranpaul that featured 10 CHAUVET Professional Rogue R2 Spot and 16 Rogue R2 Wash fixtures, and 32 Q-Wash 560Z-LED washes.
A TPi Award nominee, Wilkinson has been part of the Blackpool Dance Festival for six years, but in 2018 it was his chance to design the event. He strove to bring a new level of smoothness to his efforts. “We have provided equipment to this event since 2012, and each year we set the bar higher for ourselves,” he said. “This year, I wanted to change things up a little and worked with Arranpaul’s Operation Manager, Tom Beattie, to bring that little extra to the party.”
After two weeks of intensive designing and calculations, Wilkinson and Beattie decided upon an extensive collection of Chauvet fixtures in order to create a mixture of classic ballroom dance lighting and architectural lighting to accentuate the prestigious Victorian-era Winter Gardens venue.
For the actual dance performances, Wilkinson specified 10 Rogue R2 Spots, mounted on the balconies, to create various effects using the fixture’s built-in gobos and zoom feature.
“The R2 Spots provided great atmosphere during the performances, and I was able to utilize the various gobo effects to provide different atmosphere for the three main types of dance to be seen during the festival – the Waltz, Two Step and Foxtrot,” he said. “They also created a sense of grandeur when shining towards the beautiful roof of the venue.”
The 32 Q-Wash 560Z-LED fixtures were mounted on 24-meter-long center truss and used as full color floor washes, whilst the 16 R2 Wash fixtures were mounted on two pieces of flown truss either side for key lighting.
“The R2 Wash allowed me to construct various extra special flairs of saturated wash for each dance number,” said Wilkinson. “As a result, we had enough versatility to provide something new for each of the 15 days.”
To provide the necessary flourishes to accentuate the impressive Victorian architecture, Wilkinson also specified 34 CHAUVET DJ Freedom Par Tri-6 fixtures to uplight the beautiful pillars scattered throughout the ballroom. Thanks to the Freedom Par’s combination of 18W RGB color mixing and wireless rechargeable battery with built-in D-Fi transceiver, the fixture proved an effective and versatile companion for Wilkinson and his team.
“The wireless and cableless setup of the Freedoms was incredibly practical for us, saving us heaps of time and energy,” said Wilkinson. “Despite their tiny footprint, we were able to flush the pillars and roof with saturated color, which created a wonderful contrast to the dances below.”
This contrast, along with the smooth, even field of light and vivid colors, accentuated the polished sophistication of the performance on the dance floor – and that, said Wilkinson, has been the main mission of his lighting design since he first signed on with the festival.