molo is very pleased to be able to share images from Escaping the Weight of Darkness, a work commissioned and performed by the National Ballet of Japan. Premiered in Tokyo, the performance uses custom-made cloud softlights constructed from molo’s modified textile material.
molo’s work with Jessica Lang began in 2011 when she was commissioned to create a new work for the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Discovering molo products while doing research, she instigated an artistic collaboration with molo’s founders, Stephanie Forsythe + Todd MacAllen. Forsythe + MacAllen knew their flexible designs had potential for performance and had considered collaborating with a choreographer (both had studied and were inspired by collaborative works between Isamu Noguchi and Martha Graham). Lang began working back and forth with Forsythe + MacAllen, generating ideas which Lang then took into the studio and onto stage rehearsals with the Birmingham Royal Ballet. Discovering and experimenting with molo products, Lang refine the concept developed with Forsythe + MacAllen to form the work Lyric Pieces.
Following Lang’s use of molo softblocks to create the set of another work, Lines Cubed, Forsythe + MacAllen and Lang looked to further expand the collaborative exchange and visual language being developed. The partners imagined and modelled cloud softlight as an illuminated tutu and proposed the concept to Lang. Lang loved the idea, and began working with two of molo’s lighting products – cloud softlight and softblock with LED. Now, in Lang’s third and fourth collaborations with molo, the studio's lighting products have become central to stage and costume design.
For Escaping the Weight of Darkness, Lang brought an animate cloudscape to the stage. As the work begins, dancers move from reclined positions; their paired cloud softlights gradually float upward, creating space for the intricate choreography of both dancers and lighting that follows.
Throughout the performance, groups of clouds rise and lower with enchantingly smooth motion to create both intimate vignettes and grand scenes. Three dancers wearing illuminated cloud tutus enter, further integrating dancer with set, and bringing a new animation to the lighting within the work. As the piece comes to a close, the initial chiaroscuro of glowing clouds is inverted when a warm, radiant backdrop is revealed and molo’s lighting is silhouetted with the dancers below.
Through Lang’s innovative choreography, threads of flexibility, motion, and abstraction are recognized in the animate and the inanimate, and brought to the foreground. With each successive work, her compositions continue to find new refinement in tying together performer and object, drawing impressively delicate emotive qualities from their symbiosis.