Review: ‘iLuminate’, the family dance show starring technology

Asya Danilova

  • New York Critic

The signature florescent costumes and sets make the dance shows of iLuminate Company instantly recognizable. They were finalists on the show “America’s Got Talent” in 2011 and have been performing on television and tours, both domestically and internationally. Just in time for the winter holidays, “iLuminate” came back to New York and opened at the New World Stages on December 1st.

Producer and director Miral Kotb came up with the idea of combining the lighting programing and choreography to create a unique visual experience for the audience sitting in a completely blacked out theater. I must admit, watching the glowing silhouettes of the top-notch dancers is pretty cool and captivating. The fluorescent outlines of the costumes leave no room for mistakes in the choreography, and the performers didn’t disappoint. Hip-hop, jazz, ballet and contemporary dance blend together seamlessly to catchy songs, a lot of which are pop music hits. 

The energetic choreography and spectacular visual effects call for a venue less conventional, perhaps a nightclub or some other kind of immersive setting. It is a great visual concept but it needs to be attached to something more appropriate, or to get a strong narrative to go along. Sadly, the current production of “iLuminate” hardly reaches beyond an entertaining concept showcase, although it is the length of a full-scale show (97 minutes) with a plot. 

We follow the adventures of Jacob, a young artist, who comes across a magical light brush. Both the brush and Jacob’s girlfriend are stolen by a mean, jealous guy. Now the young hero and his friends need to travel to a parallel dimension to rescue the captive girl, and to rip the magic brush from the hands of evil. With very little voiceover dialogue, and plentiful melodramatic gestures, this modern day fairy tale is very accessible for an audience of all ages.

The interactive elements are a nice touch and must be enjoyable for the kids, especially when one is offered to volunteer to help the heroes on their mission by playing a simple cognitive game on stage. But of course, the technology is the main star of the show. Perfectly executed, the dance of separated body parts or a girl riding a giant snakelike monster will captivate even the adult theater snobs.                        

“iLuminate” runs through January 8th at the New World Stages, located at 340 West 50th street, New York. Tickets are $77-$97 and are available at the new World Stages box office, by the phone (1-800-447-7400) or online.