Al Crawford, Lighting Director for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater creates the lighting for many of the famed company's modern dances. But he also designs the lighting for one of the company's most important fund-raising events, a gala for approximately 700 people to benefit the Ailey School.This event is housed each year in a 50' x 200' tent erected for the occasion in Harlem in New York City.

Crawford's challenge is to create a theme and a color palette each year... and each year it's different. Usually, the Alvin Ailey event planners pick up on Crawford's color palette and carry its theme through to the rest of the event. In the 2006 event, for example, shown above, the planners used crystalline serving pieces, mirrored vases and other accessories chosen to match the lighting scheme. Here's what Al Crawford said about the lighting for the 2006 event:

"This event wanted to celebrate the Ailey school and honor its colorful nature. This organization is extremely diverse and I wanted to comment on that through the design - primarily through the variety of color used. Red (R27) and magenta (R346) don't usually go together, but they do in this design to carry forward the theme of diversity!"

"The use of rich color with the mirror ball chandelier (29 in all) allowed all of these hues to layer in a very unconventional way. It was very exciting to experiment during this event as the chandelier of mirror balls created a refractive element for us to be creative with. I chose color combinations, such as R388 and R33 that would vibrate against each other, using ultra violets as a background tone. I wanted this to be a color spectacle and create an environment the guests would remember."

Roscolux Colors & Gobos Used:


"Lounge Feel"


Rosco Custom Gobo

"Rich Combinations"

Rosco Custom Gobo

See all Roscolux colors

More info on custom gobos

"This is the same venue for the same event in 2004. But that year we wanted the galas to have more of a lounge feel. So we chose rich deep purples, such as R47 layered with textured teals, including R55 and light blues like R61. The hanging lanterns created a warm ambient visual element in this cool space."

"Same venue, same event in 2005. But that year we decided to use the West African symbolic language called Adinkra as the décor for the event. We chose ancient symbols that were about family, strength, leadership and discipline. These were made into glass gobos by Rosco and projected on the roof's expansive canvas. Deep reds, yellows and amber created the rich color palette for this ethnic, themed event."

"In 2003, we wanted the event to be pure fun! We chose rich combinations pf purples and reds, such as R348 and R26 and layered them with graphic elements in steel blue (R64) The uprights of the tent allowed for a great accent color opportunity with a sizzling orange (R23) We finished this off with a custom steel gobo projection of Alvin Ailey's logo from the mid-1980s."

Al has worked as a lighting designer extensively in many areas of the visual and performing arts including dance, theater, opera, corporate and social events and themed entertainment. He is enjoying his 11th season as the Lighting Director for the Alvin Ailey® American Dance Theater and also designs extensively for the company. He has designed numerous high profile works such as Judith Jamison's Love Stories with Rennie Harris and Robert Battle, Double Exposure for the Lincoln Center Festival and scenic and lighting designs for HERE...NOW. , a work commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad at the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.

Al also enjoys designing projects such as corporate and social events, themed dinners and architectural installations. Clients include companies such as Jazz at Lincoln Center, XM Radio and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Some of Al's favorite collaborators have been choreographers Melissa Hayden, Judith Jamison, Mark Dendy, Hope Boykin, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, Matthew Rushing, Uri Sands, Durrell Moultrie, Jessica Lang, Francesca Harper, Troy Powell, Doug Varone, Rennie Harris and Robert Battle.

He has had the opportunity to light projects all over the globe taking him to 48 states and over 40 countries. It is this diversity of travel that has allowed him to discover his enjoyment of touring large-scale productions overseas in a wide variety of venues.

Recently, Al has enjoyed speaking to student designers about repertory touring and lighting design at the North Carolina School of the Arts, University of Connecticut, Northern Illinois University and the Gilbert Helmsley Lighting Internship Seminars.

Current projects include a new ballet for Hope Boykin for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a variety of gala fundraisers and architectural projects all over the country.

Al is excited and honored to be the President of the Board of Directors of HopeBoykinDance.

Al is a graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts. He is also a member of United Scenic Artists (USA-829) and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE Local-635).

Al's lighting design firm is Arc3design, LLC.