Bhangra is a music genre associated with Punjabi culture of India and Pakistan, an upbeat type of popular music. Robe lights were right there at the hub of the action for the UK’s largest student show and the world’s biggest Bhangra competition, “Bhangra Showdown’, which this year seriously upped the ante, moving to the SSE Arena, Wembley, London for the first time, reflecting the success and popularity of the event now in its eighth glorious year.

The show – organised by Imperial College Bhangra Society also featured its largest and most ambitious technical production to date to accompany the eight top student teams who strutted their talent in the battle for The UK’s Best Student Bhangra Team. Kudos AV, based in Middlesex, sponsored the event for many years and this year they were also the main Technical Production provider. The lighting rental company Siyan supplied some of the additional kit needed and also assist on the lighting design for the high energy show.

For moving lights, the design utilised 28 x Robe Pointes, 16 x LEDWash 600s, 16 x MMX Spots and some other fixtures, supplied by Kudos and Siyan. Robe fixtures were specified because it’s the primary moving light brand stocked by both companies and also irrespective of this they were the best choice. They were chosen for the wide ranging feature sets and – in all cases – for their brightness as they all had to complete with a large LED screen upstage.

The actual lighting design was collaboration between Kudos LD Vitalijus Kybartas and Siyan’s Tom Grant. A major consideration was that it had to be practical to rig and get up-and-running very quickly, as the time-frame was so tight. Due to the venue layout for this show, the stage was not directly underneath the house grid, making rigging a little more complex than usual, which Kybartas & Tom kept in mind when conceiving the initial design.

The solution revolved around three straight trusses – front, mid and back with drop-pipes on the mid and back creating extra depth and dynamics and allowing the positioning of Pointes at different heights all around the performance space. This geometric pattern was mirrored with the floor package, where eight different height pipe / tank-trap towers were dotted around the stage, each rigged with a Pointe on top. Once this basic truss and floor stand idea was established as a building block of the system, Tom and Kybartas added additional layers of lighting including side light, boosting the front truss lighting and tweaking fixture positions to maximise their use.
One of the main creative challenges was to produce lots of fresh, colourful, fast moving and animated lighting looks for the different teams of contestants, ensuring that each presentation received a similar amount of visual attention, and also that each had its own unique setting. This was a task at which the Pointes once again excelled.

The 60ft front truss was rigged with four MMX Spots used for key lighting and some 700 Wash fixtures. The mid and back trusses were both 50 ft. wide and loaded with six Pointes each on the pipe drops, four MMX Spots and eight LEDWash 600s together with more blinders and strobes. On the floor, in addition to the Pointes on the vertical stands, were another eight wash fixtures and the four remaining MMX Spots. Kybartas loves Pointes for “the linear prism effects, the really fast movement and the generally quick responsiveness which mean effects can be inserted into your show in a heartbeat’ He also likes the small size of the Pointe and its power. “It’s great for virtually any applications” he states. On this show the fact that Pointes are equally good as a beam, spot or wash fixture was another asset it looked like they had double the fixtures in the rig!’ comments Kybartas.

He also reckons the MMX Spots are great for multi applications. In addition to the excellent key lighting they provided, he used them for aerial gobo scenes, stage texturing and bold colourful beamy pictures, all of which were honed to compliment and work alongside the video content being shown. The LED Washes he comments, “A really powerful wash for the size, a nice flat beam field, great zoom and good effects using the individual ring control’. He used the latter for several elements of the show.

Talking generally, he has used Robe from day one of his professional lighting career, along with all the other major brands, and “I’m proud to say that the Robe products and the service is the best,’ concludes Kybartas.
Kybartas programmed and ran the show using an Avolites Sapphire Touch console. Winners of the 2015 Bhangra Showdown were competition founders Imperial College … who were given a close run by runners up, UCL.