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iLuminate Artists of Light

This multi-disciplinary theatrical experience is on track to be New York's next big thing.

A scene from Artists of Light
(© iLuminate)
iLuminate Artists of Light is a fun, language-free theatrical experience well on its way to becoming one of the great New York multidisciplinary mega hits. Like its beloved cousins Blue Man Group and Stomp, Artists of Light engages its willing audience through pumping music, visual tricks, and impressive choreography. The effect is an experience that is engrossing and appealing to everyone, from kiddos to grandparents.

iLuminate is a production and technology company founded by Miral Kotb, a Columbia University grad who also created the iLuminate software and its signature lightsuits. These space-agey costumes have been used to great effect by big-name performers such as Chris Brown and David Guetta, but what makes Artists of Light unique as a show is that the artists have built their whole story around these suits. iLuminate's own team has a mastery of the technology beyond what has been seen in previous concert performances.

In Artists of Light, the stage is pitch black from start to finish, and line-drawing images created by dancers in iLuminate's suits are all that the audience sees (interestingly, this makes the theater's farthest back seats the best in the house), and the set pieces are outlined in colored streaks of light that end up looking like a quick cartoon sketched in someone's draft book. The result feels like you're watching a comic book that's been brought to life. In fact, it seems like a missed opportunity that Artists of Light doesn't do more to play up this visual similarity to a popular art form.

The thin story, such as it is, follows a young artist with a magical paintbrush as he, his painted creations, and a team of dancer friends battle a jealous bully who steals his brush. This storyline, while serviceable, seems to serve mostly to allow for extended dance/battle sequences and an excuse to play an uplifting song about "shining your light" and "letting the world see who you are."

What makes the show worth seeing (and draws "oohs" and "ahhs" from the audience) are the fascinating tricks the members of iLuminate's dance crew are able to create with their costumes and props. Animated robots are built onstage piece by piece and characters fly and flip at unnatural heights. The physicality of iLuminate's dancers is the other element of the Artists of Light that really wows. In addition to founding the company, Kotb (an ex-dancer) is one of the show's choreographers. Along with cast members John "JRock" Nelson, Dario Mejia, and Marcus Allan Cobb, the show skillfully weaves technology with dance, especially during sequences in which several of the dancers each tackle a short solo performance of a different dance genre.

iLuminate Artists of Light knows the niche it is attempting to fill and in this self-awareness manages to hit all the right notes, from the catchy music to the international-audience-friendly lack of dialogue, while still marching to the beat of its own drum. However, there is room to improve. Some of the visual tricks don't seem to hit quite the way they were intended and occasionally the actors' silhouettes are too visible to facilitate the illusion. Despite this, audiences who enjoy this kind of effect-heavy show that stimulates the eyes and ears will leave basking in iLuminate's glow.