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DINO-LIGHT-A Glow-in-the-Dark Adventure
Saturday, March 7, 2020


It’s sort of a Frankenstein tale, with a kindly professor creating a monster that comes to life via electroluminescent wire. But DINO-LIGHT ends happily ever after as the professor is able to give his creation a new heart.

Those who see one of the two DINO-LIGHT performances scheduled for Wednesday, March 11, at The Argyros in Ketchum will not soon forget this blend of puppetry, technology and dance.

“We’re the only ones using this particular medium,” said Ian Carney, who created and performs the theatrical production with fellow dancer Corbin Popp. “And we’ve found the performance is just as powerful for an 85-year-old as a 5-year-old.”

Carney and Popp were dancing together in Twyla Tharp’s “Movin’ Out” on Broadway when they happened across something called “el wire.” The ballet dancers became intrigued by the idea of building a puppet that could effectively erase the dancer in viewers’ eyes and let the viewers’ imagination take over.

Soon, they were enlisting their wives’ help in developing a puppetry-based neon creature that could come to life.

They used a variety of recyclable materials, such as aluminum rods, skateboard wheels, plumbing supplies, PVC pipes, fishing poles, duct tape and even election signs to create pliable sculptures that could stand up to dance movements. They added black fabric and then lined their sculptures with electroluminescent wire.

The wire, powered by up to 16 AA batteries per performance, gives off 360 degrees of glowing light as their T-rex, 16-foot tall birds and other creatures dance across the stage.

“Our creatures don’t just sit on a pedestal. They come to life,” said Carney, who invests up to 200 hours on a single puppet. “When I put a sculpture on, it becomes a matter of: Who is this thing?”

In DINO-LIGHT Ketchum audiences will witness the story of a lonely professor who wants to make a friend and so builds a dinosaur. All goes well until the dinosaur takes on an evil bent and decides to eat the professor.

“Fortunately, the professor thinks fast and makes a heart to put into the dinosaur and they become best friends,” said Carney, who is based in New Orleans.

But the story doesn’t end there. Carney and Poo asked next what would happen if the green dinosaur went out into the world, having to learn things like a young child. He encounters 16-foot birds and a big blowfish. And he learns that there is evil in the world—evil that he must learn to contend with.

 “It’s a fun story—something the audience has never seen,” said Carney.

As a ballet dancer, Carney has relied on movement to tell age-old stories like “Romeo and Juliet” and “Nutcracker.” His puppet sculptures rely on movement, as well, rather than language.

.“There is no spoken world so we’re not harnessed by language—and it’s a very fun thing to be allowed to tell a story with movement,” said Carney.

DINO-LIGHT has been updated since its first performance in 2007 and it’s been taken around the world  from Hong Kong to Estonia, from China to Abu Dhabi.

“I love performing round the world because every audience is different. I love that something that  might not even rate a chuckle in one country ends up being the funniest thing on the planet to audiences in another country,” said Carney. “But the more we perform for different cultures, the more I realize that the only thing that separates us is language—not even ideology.”

In the years since DINO-LIGHT was created, Carney and Poo have created other productions, such as “The Ugly Duckling” and “Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey.” This year they’re premiering “The Adventures of Tortoise and Hare: The Next Generation.”

“The animal world gives us a flexibility we wouldn’t have with human characters,” said Carney. “And in the end, we just want as many people as possible having great time in theater-. After all, theater was the IMAX of the 1920s.”

The Argyros added a second show of DINO-LIGHT after the first one sold out. The new show starts at 4 p.m.

Tickets range from $10 to $25., available at

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