The 20th year of Airband on Friday March 22 showcased many great performances, but there was one performance that left many audience members asking ‘how did they do that?’
Rhythm Lights was created by senior computer science major Jeff DeWitt. The performance included dancers who wore suits programmed to light up to the music.
“I came up with the idea for the banana split contest,” DeWitt said. “We had the idea of doing a glow stick thing for that, and it morphed into this whole idea for Airband. Thanksgiving is when I officially started working on it. I got my first pieces. That’s when I was experimenting with how to actually put the thing together and get it to work.”
DeWitt wired the suits to light in sync with the group’s music. This task included soldering wires to their respective control boards, syncing each suit’s control boards with one another and the music as well as sewing the wires to the suits the dancers wore.
“For the suits I bought four strands of 10 feet of wire. Then I had to sew them by hand onto the suits.”
Not only did DeWitt build the suits, but he also worked on the choreography for the performance.
“I choreographed a good portion of the dance, but I also sectioned off some parts and I gave them to my dancers to help me,” DeWitt said. “I didn’t do any of the solos.”
While DeWitt designed and created the suits the dancers wore, there were several other members in Rhythm Lights.
The Rhythm Lights dancers included freshman nursing major Amber Cutforth, sophomore intervention specialist education major Esther King, senior sport management major Melissa Millican, freshman English major Julia Newton, freshman nursing major Paige Showalter, and junior communication arts major Jasmine With.
Cutforth, one of the dancers, enjoyed being a part of the performance.
“It was really cool,” Cutforth said. “It was a lot of timing and getting it right was important because we knew when the lights were going to come on. You had to be in your spot and be ready to go when they came on. It was a crazy experience.”
The dancers and extras worked on their performance for a long time with DeWitt.
“We actually didn’t even have all the suits completed until right after we came back from spring break, so we learned a lot of the choreography without the suits at all and just counting it out and music cues,” Cutforth said. “We have been working on it for months.”
In addition to the dancers, there were four extras. The three men extras, senior youth and educational ministries major Jonathan DeMattia, non-Malone student Andrew Newton and senior zoo and wildlife biology major Joshua Setty, performed all of the lifts of the acts.
The fourth extra, sophomore nursing major Sara Walthour, was the group’s lip syncer, but due to technical problems the night of the show it was unable to be seen.
“Our lip syncer didn’t turn on. We had a blacklight on the top of the stage and she was supposed to be our DJ and lip syncer, and something went wrong with the blacklight during the show,” DeWitt said. “Otherwise, it turned out good.”
While Airband is over, the suits have use left in them.
“I’m going to present the suits to my computer science class because it’s a project for my senior seminar,” DeWitt said.
In the end, the members of Rhythm Lights were glad to be a part of such a unique experience.
“Jeff did a great job,” Cutforth said. “He did a lot of the work. He’s really good at what he does, so credit really should go to him.”