Northampton Press

Thursday, October 18, 2018
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOMiral Kotb CONTRIBUTED PHOTOMiral Kotb
CONTRIBUTED PHOTOiLuminate, 5 p.m. Sept. 23, State Theatre, Easton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOiLuminate, 5 p.m. Sept. 23, State Theatre, Easton.

State Theatre to iLuminate

Thursday, September 20, 2018 by CAMILLE CAPRIGLIONE Special to The Press in Focus

With an unprecedented blend of dance, storytelling and technology, iLuminate is a phenomenon that has catapulted the unique dance troupe to fame. Described by critics as “groundbreaking” and “jaw-dropping,” this remarkable glow-in-the-dark performance is exhilarating for all ages.

iLuminate performs at 5 p.m. Sept. 23, State Theatre Center for the Arts, Easton.

iLuminate is the brain-child of Miral Kotb. The Houston native received a degree in computer science from Columbia University and studied dance at Barnard College. After graduation, Kotb was a software engineer at Bloomberg LP, New York City.

The concept for iLuminate emerged in 2009, while Kotb was developing iPhone applications. She envisioned dancers who wore illuminated costumes to perform in the dark, utilizing wireless technology controlled from the palm of one’s hand.

“America’s Got Talent” producers contacted Kotb., who had founded iLuminate Productions. In summer 2011, fans chose iLuminate as one of the top finalists on the TV show.

The iLuminate troupe includes more than one dozen dancers and technicians.

“The group in this tour is comprised of dancers, technical and wardrobe team members from around the country. I personally hand-picked each member based on auditions for different projects,” says Kotb in a phone interview.

“I’ve been able to bring together the best performers and engineers from each field to create a show that is both artistically and technically superior.

“We are the original light-suit entertainment company,” says Kotb. “I combined my love of dance and computer science to invent the wearable wireless system that drives the performance.”

Preparation and execution of a show such as this can be complex.

“First, the technical staff makes whatever adjustments are needed to the wearable technology light-suits. Then they prepare the stage, props and computers.

“Each of the dancers has their own way of preparing. The contemporary dancers tend to do a full ballet barre or yoga warm-up, while the hip-hop dancers usually freestyle and have dance-offs together to warm up.

“Once everything is prepared, we always come together to take a moment to give each other words of encouragement before the show starts.”

Appearing on “America’s Got Talent” was a huge boost for iLuminate.

“Appearing on ‘AGT’ put us on the map as the innovators of this new performance art technology and it introduced iLuminate as a performance group,” says Kotb.

“The incredible feedback from the judges, and worldwide recognition, took the company to the next level and we have continued to grow globally since then.”

Kotb is exploring new technologies.

“Innovation is a constant motivation for us to continue to try new things to enhance the performance and overall audience experience.”

Kotb encourages students to learn about technology.

“We are a developing our iLuminate School Program. We have partnered with several organizations, including Google and different U.S. embassies globally, to introduce our technology to young students and encourage them to find their voices and passions at a young age.

We believe collaboration with those from different backgrounds is an important skill that should be introduced early. We bring together dance students, students interested in engineering, and students interested in theater. They work together to create their own iLuminate performances, from the choreography to the light programming to building the light suits.”

Kotb stresses that the show appeals to many, “One of the best things about our show is that it’s great for all ages. Family members, from young children to great-grandparents, equally enjoy it.

“We also are a big hit for date night, college students, young adults, dancers of all styles, people who are fascinated by the technology, and so much more. It’s currently the only show of its kind on tour and is not to be missed.”

Tickets: State Theatre Center for the Arts box office, 453 Northampton St., Easton; statetheatre.org; 1-800-999-7828; 610-252-3132