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  • Hartford Courant

    Immersive ‘Luminaria’ brings light, dance and visual excitement to the Warner Theater

    By Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant,

    27 days ago

    It’s a light show. It’s a light entertainment. It’s a dance. It’s a yoga class. It’s a cocktail party. It’s a projection. It’s a celebration. It’s “Lumaria,” the latest multimedia vision of digital artist Ryan Glista and choreographer Carolyn Paine.

    The expansive, immersive multimedia art piece can explored in multiple formats June 21-23 at the Warner Theatre in Torrington.

    Glista is the guy who does those compelling videos of local performers that are projected on the outside walls and lobby arches of The Bushnell, where he’s been the staff digital producer and creative director for the past two years. When he gave Paine’s long-running local holiday treat “Nutcracker Suite & Spicy” the Bushnell treatment, she began joining him in doing the videos and brainstormed fresh projects.

    “Lumaria” is an extension of “Electric Jungle,” an immersive environment Glista created last year with the artist Mercury for RiseUp, the local arts organization known for its outdoor murals. “Electric Jungle” projected images of dancers onto curtains in a room which also featured ambient music and special scents. Glista said at the time that he intended “Electric Jungle” to be “a meditative community space where you can disconnect from technology and ruminate.”

    “Lumaria” takes the concept to the next level. “It’s a different way of presenting the performing arts,” Glista said. Paine added that “it’s visually stunning yet soothing.” Some of the events are based on activities. In others, the projections and other design elements are the main event. The projections loop and repeat, making “Luminaria” something you’re “designed to experience as you go,” Paine said.

    The video images are “very dance-driven,” Paine explained. “It’s a dance video that moves with the music. The central piece remains the same, but the dance changes when it’s shown like this.” She mentions a section where she is shown “spinning in a tutu. It wouldn’t read the same in a live show.”

    “Lumaria” starts with a “Lumaria Happy Hour” featuring live music by local cellist Jonathan Moore on June 21 at 5 p.m. with tickets priced at $18. On June 22 at 10 a.m., there’s “Lumaria Yoga” ($28) followed at 11:30 a.m. by a “Lumaria Dance Class” ($28). The “Lumaria Family Experience” ($23) is June 23 at noon. There are also two free-admission “Lumaria Experience” events simply called “open exhibits” on June 22 and 23 at 2 p.m.

    Paine describes the Friday cocktail hour as “a soft launch” for the experience, one which has “the art projected, but it’s also a social experience and a live music event.”

    All the events are held in the Warner Theatre’s Nancy Marine Studio Theatre. Glista and Paine chose Torrington for “Luminaria” because “there really isn’t a Black Box space in the Hartford area to turn into an immersive space,” Glista said. “The Warner started as a movie house then became a performing arts center, so it has this history of both film and performing arts. It’s also a different part of the state, and we’re curious about the audiences there.”

    There’s a Bushnell connection: The Bushnell and the Warner Theatre have shared a theater management agreement.

    Glista and Paine have other projects in the works, including the Bushnell-sponsored video “Queer Stories of Love in Dance,” which will be shown on buildings including West Hartford Town Hall during Pride Month. They are conscious of creating new work for new audiences in an age where people are so used to screen images, videos and images that they carry them with them everywhere on their phones. They are interested in seeing how “Luminaria” and other progressive immersive arts projects interact with audiences.

    “Connecticut’s never had anything like this before,” Glista said. “It simply doesn’t exist, except in New York. We’re finding out what audiences get excited about this.”

    More information on “Luminaria” and ticket sales can be found on the Warner Theatre website at warnertheatre.org . The Warner Theatre and its Nancy Marine Studio Theatre are located at 69 Main St. in Torrington.

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