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Sir Paul McCartney was commissioned by Peter Martins and The New York City Ballet (NYCB) to write a ballet for the company, what developed was a libretti/score for Ocean’s Kingdom. In the summary, McCartney specifically asks for the use of video projections, a artistic tactic not commonly used by the NYCB to this degree. NYCB resident lighting designer, Mark Stanley, enlisted the help of S. Katy Tucker.

Over the course of the next year, Stanley and Tucker worked closely with Sir Paul, choreographer Peter Martins, and scenic designer Perry Silvey to create Ocean’s Kingdom.  As a video designer, designing projections for ballet proved quite difficult.  Projection design picks up where scenic and lighting design leave off.  Video has the flexibility to quickly change locations and shift moods in a more detailed manner than lighting permits.  Additionally, it provides movement, separating itself from painted drops and lighted cycs typically used in ballet.  And what makes ballet unique is the art comes strictly from the movement of the dancers’ bodies. This juxtaposition meant Tucker, as a video + projections designer, needed to find the delicate balance between providing a captivating background, but not pulling focus from the dancers, and in a fashion that permits the New York City Ballet to perform their usual rep of 15+ shows!  In the end, the video style was not Tucker’s normal style, but helped service the production and give Ocean’s a deserving environment.

Sir Paul, was completely involved in all aspects of the show.  In fact, his original drawings and digitized music are incorporated into some of the projections.

Project Details

Ocean’s Kingdom

New York City Ballet