Glastonbury has grown to become one of the largest music festivals in the world, and over the years has attracted some of the largest names in music, including Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Oasis and U2 to name but a few. But the festival is not only know for its music, but also other forms of performance, such as dance, circus, comedy and theatre. This year was no exception, with renowned dance group Michael Clark Company took to the stage and performed over two days at the festival. As this was their first time performing at the Glastonbury Festival, they called upon White Light, a company with which they have a long-standing relationship, to provide the production support at such an iconic event.
Founded in 1984 by Michael Clark CBE, Michael Clark Company are an innovative dance group whose experimental shows feature intense and fine-tuned choreography intersected with elements of punk, Dada, pop and rock. Their productions repeatedly break new ground, provoking and electrifying audiences across the globe, and they have performed in North America, Asia and Australia. This year they decided to showcase their work at the Glastonbury Festival. Richard Godin, Lighting Designer for Michael Clark Company, states: “The company performed an extract from an existing piece called Come Been and Gone. There were three performances in total during the festival: one on the Pyramid Stage and two more in the Astrolabe Tent”. Both spaces are renowned for their various performances, with the Pyramid Stage often regarded as the world’s most recognisable festival stage. Richard comments: “It is extremely rare for a dance group to perform on that stage and I can only think of one other time this has happened”.
The piece performed by Michael Clark Company was a physical exploration of the music of David Bowie and had already received rave reviews following runs in both London and Edinburgh. Rachel Gale, Moving Light Hire Manager at White Light, says: “It’s always a great experience working on any Michael Clark Company show. Not only do we have a strong working relationship with them but as their shows are so unique and ground-breaking, they get the most out of our staff and resources”. The performance at the Glastonbury Festival proved to be no exception. Rachel comments: “The brief for the Pyramid Stage performance was to supply a complete floor package which included the lighting, control desk and power. For the lighting, Richard used the i-Pix BB4 LED Washlights and Arri Fresnels 2K Junior which were rigged in dance towers and controlled by an ETC Ion Console”. As with most festivals, the set-up time was minimal, due to the various acts continuously playing after one another. Richard adds: “We literally had half an hour to roll everything out onto stage and set up before the performance started. Luckily for us, due to the superb facilities White Light has at its Wimbledon premises, we had enough time to prep and pre-rig to ensure that, when it came to performance time, we were as efficient as possible”.
This year was the first time that both White Light and Michael Clark Company had visited the Glastonbury Festival so it presented new challenges for the pair of them. Rachel states: “As both the Pyramid Stage and Astrolabe Tent are so different, Richard had to create various set-ups that would easily adapt to each. That’s why preparing at our warehouse was so important as it gave him the opportunity to try out different set-ups and ensure that we provided the equipment which not only fulfilled the brief but could then be taken to the Glastonbury Festival”. Richard comments: “The whole design was based on how best to support six dancers in both spaces. It was also important that the colour pallet created by Charles Atlas on the original production was still clear, even in the daylight. Through White Light’s support and diverse equipment list, I managed to achieve this”.
This year’s Glastonbury Festival was another sell-out, with the legendary event seemingly growing in prominence with each passing year. It was also another successful collaboration between White Light and Michael Clark Company. Richard comments: “I have used White Light for many years, purely due to its high level of detail and genuine care for its clients. As a company, it invests in the long-term success of a project by helping designers from the very start realise how their vision can be achieved”. Rachel adds: “This was an ideal event for us to work on. Not only did it see us working with a long-standing client, but on one of the biggest festivals in the world, with a unique project that pushed the boundaries of what could be achieved in those performance spaces”.