Dark with Excessive Bright for The Royal Ballet - World Premiere February 10th, 2024, in the Linbury Theatre at @royaloperahouse as part of the Festival of New Choreography by Robert Binet.

Dark with Excessive Bright: Set Deisgn by Shzuka Hariu.
The scenography and spatial design for "Dark with Excessive Bright" immerse audiences in a mesmerising interplay of light, shadow, and movement. The design is influenced by Robert Binet's choreography and Missy Mazzoli's music. The challenge is to make an ephemeral space to hold the choreographic direction of dancers and the organic circulation of spectators in one united area.

As you step into the auditorium's ground floor, devoid of seating, you're enveloped by a vast, dark expanse punctuated by subtle illumination, hinting at the three main dance areas.

These dance spaces evoke the undulating surface of a tranquil lake in a moonlit forest, where beams of light filter through dense foliage, casting enchanting patterns on the ground. LED lights lining the sides of each area create an illusion of floating dance areas in darkness, while curved and diagonal lines guide the viewer through the immersive ballet experience.

Each of the three dance areas features a lattice-like structure formed by thin metal wires, reflecting light to create an ethereal ambience. Despite their density, openings in these structures offer unobstructed views of the dancers, enhancing the sense of connection between performers and the audience.  I also designed 2m diameter lighting interface which move up and down vertically to give the unique lighting effect.

In total, approx. 121 lines composing the wireframe surface of the scenography.  These diagonal metal cables reached 7.5m from the floor to the fly bars hung from the theatre ceilings. Each metal cable has an average of 8 m in length, which creates the wireframe surface metaphorically dividing and simultaneously connecting the space between dancers and audiences.

To achieve this unique design, the technical team worked together, for example, material research, construction drawings,  cutting wooden panels, producing the curved frames, preparing each 121 cables on the frames and other finishing works done beautifully by the dynamic collaborations.

The journey begins in the small-sized stage (stage 3), a small yet pivotal space with a half-aubergine shape and strategically placed lines directing spectators towards the heart of the performance. Moving through the interconnected spaces, one arrives at the main and the large stage (stage 1), the most significant area defined by organic, yin-yang curves and illuminated by a suspended lighting ring, heightening the drama of the choreography.

The middle-size stage (stage 2), situated along the auditorium balcony, resembles a celestial half-moon bathed in otherworldly light.

This cohesive stage design seamlessly merges perimeter and internal space, offering viewers a multi-dimensional experience that blurs the lines between reality and imagination. The scenography contributes to the surreal atmosphere of the production.

To anchor viewers in time, a digital clock discreetly signals the passage of the 45-minute performance, ensuring they remain grounded in the ephemeral beauty of the experiential space.

In "Dark with Excessive Bright," the convergence of dance, music, light, and shadow transcends traditional boundaries, inviting audiences to redefine their understanding of ballet through tactile, continuous engagement with the sharing performance space.

By Shizuka Hariu


This full-evening immersive ballet is set to music by @missymazzoli and features set design by @shizuka_hariu, costume design by @thomastait, lighting design by Simisola Majekodunmi and sound design by Jon Nicholls.  Very excited to be working with these collaborators, a brilliant cast and the whole team @royaloperahouse on this big adventure of a ballet. "(Robert Bintet)

Photogrpahy : Joseph Sissens, Robert Binet's Dark with Excessive Bright ©2024 ROH. Ph Andrej Uspenski
Photogrpahy : Mariko Sasaki, Robert Binet's Dark with Excessive Bright ©2024 ROH. Ph Andrej Uspenski

Photograph pre-premier: @karolinakuras featuring the glorious @joseph.sissens and @annaroseosullivan

SET DESIGNER: Shizuka Hariu
LIGHTING DESIGNER: Simisola Majekodunmi

Set Design Team

SHSH Architecture + Scenography
Set Design: Shizuka Hariu / SHSH Architecture + Scenography
Structural Adviser: Shin Hagiwara 
Model-making assistant: Benjamin Gallis
Intern: Maëlle Schaukens

Set Construction ROH:
Production Management: Luke Child
Senior Draughtsperson: Hanah Taylor, Oliver Parker
Linbury Technical Manager: Thomas Thompson
Linbury Assistant Technical Manager: Nick Manning
Scenic Construction Assistant Manager: Jim Thighe
Senior Stage Technician: Lucas Rajpaul
Stage Technicians: Andreas Papadopoulos, Anthony Hyman, Marius Golebiowski, Patricia Gilvaia, Jamie Currie, Seb Money, Fred Nye

December 2023
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