There are 11,563 registered bikes at UT, according to Parking and Transportation Services. While biking without a helmet is legal in the state of Texas, biking at night without a bike light is still against the law.
LIGHT | NIGHT, “the bike light dance project,” raises awareness about bike safety at night through an abstract dance performance that includes hula hoopers, jugglers, baton twirlers and, of course, dancers all in costumes that incorporate LED lights. As the sun goes down Saturday, the student dancers will only be visible by the lights that illuminate their bodies.
Two hundred and seventy bike lights will be distributed to students, faculty and staff holding a valid UT ID at the event. Another 200 bike lights that were donated to the production will be distributed to the Austin community.
LIGHT | NIGHT was selected by a cross-disciplinary and cross-departmental panel of students, administrators and staff based on its “poetic and unexpected approach to communicating safety issues.”
The idea for the project was first conceived last spring by students in “Design and Persuasion,” a class taught by Gloria Lee, art and art history associate professor. Kate Bedford, graduate architecture student and campaign coordinator for the UT Safe Cycling Campaign, suggested that students in the class come up with a way to give out bicycle lights and inform people of their importance while riding at night.
Andrea Beckham, theatre and dance senior lecturer, choreographed the production, largely comprised of abstract modern dance. Beckham wanted to keep the performance whimsical and fun, which is why baton twirlers, jugglers and LED hula hoops were added.
“The premise that we started working with was, ‘If you have a light on you, you are seen, and if you don’t have a light on you, you are not seen,’” Beckham said. “We have things that move in the dark, but you don’t notice them because there is no light. It’s symbolic.”
Beckham brought in performers from various backgrounds to participate in the production.
Rebecca Goldstein, a theatre and dance senior, is both a dancer and a biker in the production. Goldstein participates in one of the quicker, more aerobic pieces.
“It is more of an infusion of hip-hop and ballet, actually, while the other pieces are more of a contemporary style,” Goldstein said. “We begin with a lot of lights on our body, but just as the sun begins to disappear, so do our lights.”
LIGHT | NIGHT consists of five different parts that help illustrate the struggles faced in the darkness. The event intends to serve as a symbol and poetic reminder of the importance of being seen at night. “I think cyclists and pedestrians need to be aware of how invisible they are to drivers of cars. And with everyone being distracted, overloaded and with busy streets, the safety issues are real and growing,” Lee said. “People need to be aware, alert and safe.”
Printed on Thursday, November 1, 2012 as: Night dance spotlights bike safety