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Dino-Light presents glow-in-the-dark creatures in St. Albert

Lightwire Theatre's production at International Children's Festival of the Arts combines puppetry, visual effects, and music

Lightwire Theatre returns to the International Children’s Festival of the Arts with Dino-Light, a nationally touring show. 

Unlike any other show at this year’s festival, Dino-Light is a cutting-edge blend of puppetry, technology, visual effects, dance and music. It interprets a story of adventure, self-discovery and the true meaning of love. 

In this 55-minute tale, a scientist with magical powers brings a dinosaur to life. The young dinosaur is curious about the outside world and wanders away from home. In his journey into the unknown, it encounters diverse creatures including a dangerous dinosaur who is on the attack. 

What sets this show apart are the electroluminescent creatures who glow in the dark and appear to float through the air. In addition to the two dinosaurs, expect to see a world of dazzling and beautiful creatures that include an ostrich, flamingo, fish, flowers and a stunning 16-foot crane. 

At its core, Dino-Light is a non-verbal dance piece with glow-in-the-dark elements accompanied by music ranging from classical to pop. However, it’s the charismatic storyline that makes everything work. 

“It’s a sweet story. The lights and effects are cool. But if you don’t have a good story, people won’t sit for an hour and watch it. This is a story that will make you feel something,” said Eleanor Carney, who, along with her husband Ian, owns Lightwire. 

The company's original co-creators were Ian Carney and Cobrin Popp, two dancers who met in New York City while performing in Movin’ Out on Broadway. The kindred spirits discovered a mutual love of art, theatre and technology. In 2007, the duo formed Corbian Theatre, a blend of their two names, to create puppetry shows. 

After they discovered a product called “el wire,” also known as electroluminescent wire, their foray into puppetry became a done deal. El wire is a stiff wire coated with a phosphor that glows. It’s bendable, keeps its shape and you can curl it around your finger. It's a popular wearable electronic for costumes and hats. 

While Ian created the choreography, Cobin built the puppets using el wire often working through the night in a tiny one-bedroom apartment. 

“One night they were nearly arrested in Central Park when they went out to test the creatures. The cops said they’d never seen anything like it,” said Eleanor Carney. 

Detroit Music Hall sponsored their first commission, Darwin the Dinosaur, in 2007. The 60-minute show toured for five years. Despite its international popularity, the production was rebranded as Dino-Light after some areas of the United States associated it with teaching Darwinism. 

“We never had an agenda. We’ve never tackled a controversial story. We just thought it was a cute pet name.”  

By 2012, Corbin Popp shifted towards opening a dental surgery practice while the Carneys took over the company and renamed it Lightwire Theatre.  

At our festival's showcase, five dancers move and manipulate the creatures in a graceful, athletic flow. Jesse Forcha is Darwin, Cara Haug plays the professor and Tristan Rodney wears the angry dinosaur’s personality. Kevin Chick and Sam Johnson play every other role. 

“It’s like the idea you are flying an airplane. You control the airplane, and you are able to put all your emotions into it. As a dancer, you control not only the exoskeleton, but also the lighting system. That is a measure of true artistic expression.” 

Carney encourages families to drop by and get lost in Dino-Light's fantasy. The children's festival runs May 30 to June 2. Tickets are $18.25 and are available online at or at 780-459-1542.  

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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