Amy Okamoto

Something altogether new and unexpected will light the stage of the Johnny Carson Theatre on Feb. 25. The Norfolk Arts Center is bringing the Lightwire Theater to town for two performances of Dino Light.

The Lightwire Theater group are electroluminescent performing artists. They were semi-finalists on America’s Got Talent and tour internationally. The troupe makes use of electroluminescent wire to create a glow-in-the-dark experience unlike any other.

Dino Light is their original story production for elementary-age students. It is a tale about a scientist who uses magic to bring a dinosaur to life. When the dinosaur wanders away from home, he finds a world of darkness but meets a variety of glowing creatures who help him learn the true meaning of love.

What makes Dino Light unique is its presentation. The production is a mix of puppetry, dance and technology. The actors don flexible sculptures which function like puppets. Dance and movement help tell the story, similar to ballet. Music is used to set the atmosphere. Every movement on stage is purposeful, and there is no distraction — with characters made of light enshrouded with darkness, the audience’s attention is focused on the players.

Each character can take 200 hours to build. The group repurposes common household materials such as fishing poles, skateboard wheels and PVC to create the sculpture.

Black fabric is added for dimension, then lined with electroluminescent wire.

The wire is powered by batteries and creates 360 degrees of glowing light. The dancers are all but invisible against the black background.

Their choreography must propel the story but is dependent on the interplay of light and dark. In order to maintain the illusion of a living creature of light, for example, the dancers must never cross in front of each other or risk accidentally being backlit. All of the props and characters, including smaller traditional puppets, are illuminated by the electroluminescent wire.

If you’ve ever seen a shadow puppet performance, the concept is similar, but with a twist.

Rather than a flat shadow against a translucent screen, electroluminescent performances feature a black background with colorful, dimensional characters and props. The effect is enthralling. Visit the Lightwire Theater’s website to see short video clips of their performances: lightwiretheater.com

Dino Light will have a 10 a.m. and a 1 p.m. showing on Tuesday, Feb. 25. The shows are open to the public. Tickets are $4 each and can be purchased through the Norfolk Arts Center.

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