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Brandon Stirling Baker
Photo credit: Liza Voll
Brandon Stirling Baker is an acclaimed lighting designer who has worked for ballet, opera, and theatre companies around the world.
Brandon Stirling BakerPhoto credit: Liza Voll
Addie Tapp in George Balanchine's Serenade ©The George Balanchine TrustPhoto credit: Liza Voll
The talented 32-year-old recently joined Boston Ballet as Lighting Director and has since won the prestigious Knight of Illumination Award, which celebrates the outstanding achievements of international designers making a difference in our world today.
Baker has worked with a diverse group of visual artists, choreographers, and composers. In 2019, his work was featured at the Guggenheim Museum in a program dedicated to his work entitled “The Choreography of Light.”
In addition to his work with Boston Ballet, Baker has designed for ballet companies around the world including New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Miami City Ballet, Hong Kong Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet, Semperoper Dresden, Berlin Staatsballett, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater among many others. Before joining Boston Ballet, Baker was awarded a residency at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University and he has guest lectured there, as well as at Yale, Boston University, Fordham University, and his alma mater, California Institute of the Arts.
Baker shares his thoughts about the collaborative process that makes dance come alive on stage.
How did you know you wanted to be a lighting designer?
I grew up in Los Angeles surrounded by all areas of the arts. At the age of 13, I had this realization that artists working with light could be an incredible bridge between the world of music and the world of visual art. My passion for music, animation, and visual arts eventually led me to pursue lighting in college and professionally in all areas of the arts.
What do you think about when you’re lighting a ballet?
In all of my work as a designer for ballet, I strive to create a world of light that is specific to the dance. I like to keep every collaboration completely new and never repeat myself. Every ballet has a unique choreographic style and vocabulary. I strongly believe that the lighting must follow this language. I like to think that my work is never only about the light, but instead creates a unique world for the dance to live in. My favorite moment to craft as a lighting designer is the opening image and the final image of a ballet. I believe that it is our responsibility as artists to make visual gestures that are strong, clear, and simple while maintaining a unique point of view.
Soo-bin Lee and My'Kal Stromile in Helen Pickett's Tsukiyo
Photo credit: Liza Voll
Get a behind the scenes look as Principal Dancer Lia Cirio rehearses Jorma Elo’s reimagined Carmen.