Brandon Baker is BalletCollective's resident lighting designer. Baker's lighting for dance has been commissioned by NYCB, Limón Dance Company, Havana Ballet (Cuba), Guggenheim Bilbao (Spain), Edinburgh Festival (Scotland), The Joyce Theater, New York Choreographic Institute and the Los Angeles Music Center.
Here is my Q and A with Brandon:
Me: What does Balletcollective mean to you?
Brandon: The collective is an extremely creative and intimate opportunity to collaborate with incredible dancers, choreographers, composers and visual artists.
What do you enjoy about working with Troy?
I love that the work we create continues to be developed over time. Especially with our upcoming season at the Joyce. It’s exciting to work with someone that’s not afraid of change and equally inspired to try something new with an existing work.
How do you go about designing the lighting for a ballet?
Lighting Design for me always begins with the music. The music helps me understand the tone and energy of a ballet. After listening, I join the rehearsal process and speak with the choreographer about the overall structure and concept of a ballet. During the rehearsal process I begin looking for visual clues on how a stage space is being used (Is the choreography symmetrical? Is this a piece about individuals or ensemble? Where are the dancers coming from and is there a strong connection to music?) These are a few details that help me find a “visual voice” for a ballet and I begin taking notes on color, shape, intensity, direction, rhythm and musical timing. The shape of the design continues on paper as I begin to sketch out my ideas, create a light plot, pick color and eventually create lighting cues in the performance space.
What inspires you?
I am truly inspired by artists that want to make a difference in the work we create together. I like to surround myself and collaborate with honest, positive people that continue to surprise me.
What's your favorite way to pass time?
I spend a lot of time at the cinema and museums all over the city. I really love having a “neighborhood escape” from time to time.
What are you reading?
“Flappers & Philosophers” by F.Scott Fitzgerald. I’ve always been fascinated by the 1920’s jazz era. Also reading “Catching Fire” (guilty pleasure).
What's the most recent song/album you've downloaded?
The new album by Har Mar Superstar “Bye Bye 17” is pretty wonderful.
If you could die and come back as an animal, what would you be?
Your greatest influence?
I am always inspired by so many artists and individuals. I’ve been very fortunate to find many mentors in life post-college that continue to inspire me everyday. My family, friendships, collaborators and opportunities to travel all over the world.
Anything else you'd like people to know about you...
Before I began my career as a “lighting designer” I spent eight years recording music and playing bass guitar in bands all over Los Angeles. It all feels like another past life, but my love and passion for music continues to be a major part of the work I create today.
This year's new work will be Brandon's fourth ballet with BalletCollective. He is so creative with his design and always takes into consideration how the lights will affect the dancers. If the lights are too bright and are angled on level with our eyes, it makes dancing very difficult. Brandon tries to avoid this blinding effect and will make adjustments when necessary. It has been great working with Brandon!