Are you willing to spend approximately $50 to sit in a dark room for nearly an hour, watching talented dancers “get their funky grooves on” with wireless neon lights strapped to themselves? The producers of off- Broadway’s performance piece iLuminate hope so. After enjoying a brief New York City run in 2012, this vibrant troupe has taken an open-ended residency at New World Stages and the result is visually appealing and uniquely entertaining.
Founding director Miral Kotb, who was a software engineer at Bloomberg, attended an Apple conference in 2009 and was inspired to create this unique idea which blends dance performance with technology. The 11 members are draped in black body suits to which various colored, neon lights are affixed. They then have the ability to control these lights in the palms of their hands. Kotb’s vision has catapulted them to International fame: As finalists and guests on TV’s America’s Got Talent and as co-performers with artists including Katy Perry and Usher.
While iLuminate is billed as a performance piece, the 50 minute experience makes a valiant effort to form a simple, G-rated plot. It centers around Jacob, a quiet artist who finds comfort in “painting” the world with joy and happiness. His artistic bliss is shattered when an envious bully tries to thwart his happiness and take him down a path of terrible nightmares- all of which are of course, vivid and brightly lit. In true family friendly fashion, the protagonist wins and the giddy troupe rejoices to a memorable song called “Shine So Bright (So the World Can See your Light)” For the most part, the plot works even though the novelty does tend to tire after 30 minutes. Techno, Classical, Hip-Hop, and salsa pepper the show and the dancing is undeniably electric and inspired. Think lite brite and wikki sticks meets Daft Punk.
Following each performance, the audience is invited to meet and take pictures with the cast, a kind gesture which is sure to spawn inspiration in young would-be dancers and performers. This all audiences show is an excellent pick for families seeking respite from Mother nature’s current wrath of winter.
iLuminate is now playing at New World Stages Stage 4 340 West 50th Street ( between Eighth and Ninth Avenues). For tickets, call (212) 239-6200, visit telecharge.com or the box office.