Illuminate Design builds a new space for Jasmin Vardimon

Illuminate Design has helped one of Britain’s flagship dance theatre companies move to a new creation and rehearsal space in Ashford, Kent.
Illuminate Design already provides production management services to the Jasmin Vardimon company, helping organise the logistics of shows, both in the UK and overseas, so it made sense that, when the Company was looking for a new, permanent home, Illuminate would assist.

“We accompanied Jasmin on visits to a number of different properties,” explains Illuminate Design’s director Ben Payne, “and helped her discount several for logistical reasons – such as not being able to get trucks close enough for loading.

“One of the options we were offered was a disused 1970s gym space at the Stour Leisure Centre in Ashford. It was draughty and leaked, with very little natural light, but the size and location meant we were sure we could make it work.

“The council agreed to fit large windows along one side and fix the roof, then we then came in to do the rest. The space is about 20m x 20m, and the aim was to keep the space bright, airy and uncluttered.

“We installed a 10m x 12m Harlequin sprung panel floor in the centre of the room, in front of which is 6 sq m of built up fixed flooring for audience use. The council stipulated that we should be able to return the room to its original condition if the Company left, so it made sense to use panels, which would be easily removable if necessary. Of course, in laying this on top of the existing gym floor, we significantly reduced the cost. We’ve bought a number of floors from Harlequin and have always been impressed by the quality of flooring, and their friendly advice.

“Stage Electrics were brought in to fit drape tracks all the way round the 6.5m high ceiling, so that we could create intimacy and improve the acoustics whenever we need. In time, we’ll also install tab tracks and drapes, but this wasn’t included in the first phase, due to budgetary constraints.

Sound is key to Jasmin Vardimon’s performances, so Illuminate supplied a Yamaha LX9 control desk, with a smaller Yamaha MG166CX, to provide a simpler set up for when complex control isn’t necessary, to go with the RCF speakers.

The lighting, says Payne, is a simple setup. Illuminate Design installed new dimming, cabling and 20m of Litestructures trussing. And although they now have 16 1kW Fresnels, 20 Brios and 10 P64 PAR fixtures, the Company also has access to Illuminate’s own stocks, so that the rig can be kept as flexible as possible, allowing different options to be explored.

The Company invested in an ETC Element desk so there would never be a time when the same control desk would be needed both on tour and in the rehearsal space. “We were already familiar with the programming syntax of the desk,” says Payne, “and have little need for moving lights, so it seemed like the best option.

“A lot of Jasmin’s work uses projectors, and have always used Sanyo LXP100 projectors; we’ve now been able to purchase three, so that we can locate one in the new space and keep two for touring.

“The space is to be made available for hire to local community groups and other organisations, so was important to Jasmin that we offer them the best possible facilities.”

Vardimon comments: “We’ve worked with Illuminate Design for many years now and they have always delivered what we need. We were delighted with the care and time taken to ensure everything ran smoothly when we moved to our new dance space. Illuminate managed all of the technical aspects of moving and setting up, allowing us to concentrate on what we do best, which is developing creative concepts.”

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