ADJ LED-Powered Rig Shows Off Dance Studio End Of Year Recital In The Best Possible Light

Gain Stage Productions supplied a variety of ADJ equipment to enhance the end of year recital hosted by dance studio I AM DANCE CO. in Athens, TX recently. Featuring routines that showcased the talents of the studio’s dancers, as well as the progress they’ve made over the past year of classes, the show was enhanced by a selection of ADJ’s moving head and static wash lighting fixtures as well as atmospheric effect generators.


Titled ‘Take 5’, this year’s end of year recital staged by I AM DANCE CO. took place at the 1800-seater Caldwell Auditorium in Athens’ neighboring city of Tyler. The production was split into two shows: an earlier performance featuring the studio’s younger dancers, supported by members of the junior and senior competition teams, and a later presentation featuring the studio’s older groups and advanced teams.

Gain Stage Productions is a relatively new company, established around three years ago, but one that has already built up a solid reputation and client base throughout the Athens area, offering audio and lighting production as well as integration services. The business is owned and operated by Wes Akin who is an experienced production industry pro. He studied Commercial Music with a specialty in Audio Engineering at college before spending several years working in various roles including Local Crew, Rigger, Monitor Engineer, and Front House Engineer for events and productions of all levels, ranging from local shows to festivals and national tours. Wes also gained experience working as an installation tech for AVL contractors designing and installing sound reinforcement and lighting systems for colleges, Houses of Worship, and event venues. After taking time out working in other industries and starting a family, he decided it was time to return to his love and passion for all things production and that was when Gain Stage Productions was born.

I AM DANCE CO. was one of Gain Stage Productions’ first clients, which came about as the result of a personal connection. Wes’ daughter is a key member of the studio’s Elite competition team and the owner, Amanda Perry, initially brought him in to help with audio for their 2019 recital. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 recital had to be significantly scaled down and hosted in a much smaller venue without lighting or even a stage. To help make this the best it could be, Wes brought in a lighting package as well as audio for that production and the response was so positive that this year he was asked to once again bring in a lighting floor package to augment the theater venue’s generic stage lighting rig as well as take care of the show’s audio requirements.

Since the very beginning of Gain Stage Productions, Wes has relied on ADJ products for all of his lighting needs – both for installation projects and his rental inventory. For the later, he has focused his investment on LED-powered fixtures, appreciating both their low power draw and long operating life.

“I like the fact that all of the my ADJ fixtures have both power input and output sockets,” elaborates Wes, “so I can daisy chain the power together, even on the biggest moving heads. The efficient LED light sources mean that I can run pretty much my entire rig off two 20A circuits, which is useful when I’m working in venues with a limited power supply. I also love how easy ADJ fixtures are to setup and address, the menus really are intuitive. I have been impressed with the quality, functionality, and reliability of all my ADJ fixtures and plan to invest in more before too long.”

For the 2021 I AM DANCE CO. recital, Wes positioned four truss totems across the back of the stage and a further pair downstage at the far sides of the performing space. He used these to rig twelve 18P HEX LED wash fixtures for downlighting the stage, which were supplemented by a pair of UB 12H linear LED fixtures. These were positioned on the inside edges of the side totems to provide side fill lighting to complement the color washing and also to augment the house rig which provided a generic warm white wash of key and down light.

Positioned at the foot of each of the backline totems was a Vizi Wash Z19 moving head wash fixture. Each of these powerful and versatile luminaires is packed with 19 x 20W quad color (RGBW) 4-in-1 LEDs and offers motorized zoom with a variable beam angle of between 10 and 60-degrees.

“We used the Vizi Wash Z19s to flood the floor of stage with either a beam or wash of light and would then create rising effects coming up from the floor during dramatic moments. The two Entourage haze machines were positioned right next to the outside fixtures, which made for some really impressive effects in the haze. We also utilized them to create aerial effects, for a whole lot of color changes, and for backlighting. On several occasions during the show, we knocked out the front lights completely and just silhouetted the performers from behind using the Z19s, they were great for that.”

The lighting was completed by four Vizi CMY300 hybrid moving head fixtures, each positioned on top of one of the rear truss totems. This multifunction fixture features a specially designed 300W LED engine that offers massive output for use in medium-to-large-scale venues and event productions. Its versatile hybrid functionality allows it to be used interchangeably as a beam, spot, or wash fixture, with a massive zoom range from 8 to 46-degrees. It also boasts an extensive collection of beam-shaping tools including its signature feature of CMY color mixing. The fixture also offers motorized focus, motorized zoom, two rotating prisms (6-facet linear and 3-facet circular), two GOBO wheels (one fixed metal and one with rotating/replaceable GOBOs) and wireless WiFLY DMX connectivity.

“Especially in a big room like this, the Vizi CMY300s just punch through anything else that’s going on,” states Wes, “they really are amazing fixtures. We were also able to paint the side walls of the auditorium with color and GOBO effects, even with all the key and wash lighting running, which just shows how powerful they are. They are particularly good for creating piercing aerial effects. Using some of the factory-installed GOBOs, and by playing with zoom and focus, we were able to create tunnels around key performers – almost like hollow beams – which was really effective. Then for some parts of the show we used them as additional wash fixtures with the beam zoomed out wide, while for others we use the beam reducer GOBOs to create very tight laser-style beam effects that looked incredible.”

Wes wasn’t provided with a full running order for the show until he loaded in on the day before, which meant the lighting for the show was largely busked. This meant that his choice of control solution was important, requiring something that could be pre-programmed with a wide variety of looks which could then be quickly and easily recalled and layered together on the fly. This task was trussed to ADJ’s myDMX 3.0 software.

“I have more sophisticated control options,” explains Wes, “but I keep falling back to myDMX for little shows like this as it’s real easy to use – just point and click. Especially for this show, when I was looking after the audio and my wife and son helped out with running the lights, it being very easy for beginners to pick up and get to grips with quickly was very useful. The software offers a great combination of simplicity but also powerful features. I’ve supplied it on numerous install projects and my clients have always been happy with it and I’ve always found it to be very reliable. It’s never failed me, it doesn’t crash, it has every fixture profile, and it does everything I need it to do.”

With myDMX 3.0 in the driving seat, Wes and his family team were able to use the lighting system to produce a wide variety of different looks and effects to enhance the show’s diverse program of dance performances that covered various styles and tempos. The color mixing offered by all of the fixtures on the rig meant that a multitude of different shades could be used, while the versatility of the moving head fixtures allowed for a range of effects from subtle GOBO projections on the stage to intense aerial beam movements.

“We got a lot of positive comments and praise from both the organizers and the audience who were very impressed by the quality of the lighting and overall production,” enthuses Wes. “One of the things I was very conscious of when designing the lighting package was to bring something that would add to the show but wouldn’t distract from the performers. The aim was to enhance the atmosphere while keeping the focus of attention on the stars of the show, the dancers, which I think we achieved.”


I AM DANCE CO. ‘Take 5’ – End of the Year Recital

Audio/Visual Company
Gain Stage Productions

Lighting Designer
Wes Akin 

Lighting Operators
Krystle Akin & Shelby Akin 

Toby Rhodes (Pictures 1, 2, 3, 5 & 6)
Wes Akin (Picture 4) 

Gear List
4 x ADJ Vizi CMY300
2 x ADJ Vizi Wash Z19
12 x ADJ 18P HEX
2 x ADJ UB 12H
2 x ADJ Entourage
6 x Global Truss Totems
myDMX 3.0