Story by Jill Davis
CWRU Department of Theater Alum Zane Beatty was in town this weekend on the last stop of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater 2016 U.S. tour. Zane is Assistant Electrician with Alvin Ailey and has been all over the U.S. and to Germany, Switzerland, France, Norway, Denmark and South Africa with them. When he first graduated in 2010 Zane worked as a freelance stage manager in Cleveland. Stage managing the CWRU-CPH MFA show An Orchard put Zane in the right place at the right time to be hired as a full-time stage electrician at Cleveland Play House, a job that also made him a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) union. Zane kept his eye out for opportunities in New York City, and the job with Alvin Ailey became available in January 2014. In a whirlwind week Zane had a phone interview with the Lighting Director, got the job and moved to NYC, staying with fellow CWRU alum Cassie Dorland until the tour started.
As Assistant Electrician, Zane runs the lighting console programming cues for new dance pieces and executing the cues during performances from backstage. He is also an integral part of running the crew loading all of the lighting gear into the theater at each tour stop. The day starts at 8AM, and Zane says with pride, “We get all 8 of the overhead electrics hung by 10:30 coffee break and all 8 of the side light towers up by lunch.” What keeps a job like this interesting and challenging? Zane says the number of different dance pieces Alvin Ailey does (they have some 300 pieces in their repertory and create new ones every year) is one aspect. Also, every venue is different and they must adjust to that. They perform in large touring houses like the State Theater as well as small venues that were once movie theaters, and everything in between. Zane and the rest of the touring staff must quickly figure out the adjustments they need to make and keep a crew of up to 34 local IATSE members running as efficiently as possible for the 7 hour load in. “No matter what, the lights, sound, and dance floor must all be ready by 4PM when the dancers get the stage to rehearse and adjust their spacing.”