By Donald Hutera
Guy Hoare began his lighting career by chance, working on small-scale fringe theatre shows while studying classics at Oxford. ‘I had no idea this’d be what I’d want to do as a profession,‘ he confesses. ‘It never clicked that there was an industry I could go into.’
Since graduating in 1997 Hoare has been lighting full-time, working on loads of theatre and opera. He appreciates dance as ‘a far blanker canvas to work on, with greater scope for abstract ideas.’
Hoare’s most consistent working relationship has been with dancer-choreographer Henri Oguike. The two like to veeer away from textbook rules, preferring instead to
experiment with light and motion. Not that every collaboration is a radical departure from the norm. The happy-go-lucky Ile Aye, in which Oguike’s choreography rides the spirited rhythms of Brazilian music, would communicate easily even without the seaside blues and sun-baked oranges of Hoare’s lighting.
Shot Flow and In Broken Tendrils are a different matter. Hoare’s astute work gives these darker dances their identities. As he says of either one, ‘Strip away the lighting and the performance doesn’t make sense.The choreography is only taking place in whatever part of the body is in the light, or on the fringes of light, or in the shadows any body is casting.’
In the sinewy Shot Flow, a couple enact a sexy, almost cinematic abstraction of tentative attraction and potential discord. Oguike set the movement in Hoare’s lights: two overhead, and four on the floor whose beams might just as easily hit the dancers’ legs or faces as their full bodies.
‘Each dancer is revealing and concealing the other person,’ Hoare says, ‘literally shadowing them.’ This deceptively simple effect is also, as he puts it, ‘fantastically powerful. The lighting is calling attention to itself almost while doing nothing at all.’
In Tendrils, Oguike says, ‘We wanted to build on ideas, images and energies established with Shot Flow.‘ Again Hoare tries to make shadows constructive rather than destructive.
‘It’s very fragmented because we were looking at one light source at a time,’ he says. ‘For one section, Henri wanted to shove the light right off into the wings.’ Some of the dancers move restlessly out of sight before low light, inducing a mood of fluctuation and ambiguity.
In Hoare’s estimation, this use of light and shadow is a means of manufacturing the virtual performer without high technology. ‘It’s a simpler way of creating the image of the dancer in the dancer’s absence.’