Spotlight on Dance Lighting Scholarship Recipient Brooke Tinsley

Brooke Tinsley
Brooke Tinsley

Brooke Tinsley’s passion for dance lighting was uncovered just several years ago.

“I didn’t become interested in lighting until I took the Dance Production Foundation course, my freshman year in the dance department,” says Tinsley. “During that course I discovered lighting as this whole other side of performance that I really fell in love with because of the behind-the-scenes creativity that it offered.”

Tinsley, a senior Dance major with a Theatre minor, says that while she still enjoys performing and choreographing, she has found that dance lighting design satisfies a similar creative drive.

“I can quite literally choreograph the lights dancing and still have that sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from getting to be in front of an audience,” she says.

Luckily for Tinsley, a scholarship from The Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute (TRI) at University Libraries exists exclusively for students with this specific interest.

Louise B. Guthman left a bequest for scholarship funds to be awarded to a student with demonstrated expertise in dance lighting. The Louise B. Guthman Research Scholarship recipient is required to complete an independent research project making use of the Louise Guthman Papers and related dance lighting design and technology collections at TRI.

Louise Guthman
Louise Guthman

Guthman was born in Ohio in 1928. Her career included stage management and lighting design work with dance companies and theatres throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. Guthman was an early faculty member of the Department of Dance at Ohio State and served as the department’s head of production and lighting designer from 1974 to 1988. She was also active in the Columbus performing arts community, lighting work by local companies including BalletMet, Zivili! and the Susan Van Pelt Dance Ensemble. She was a leader in bringing gender equity to theatrical lighting and stage management, a traditionally masculine field when she began her work behind the scenes. 

“I’m particularly inspired by and grateful for [Guthman’s] dedication and initiative to implement lighting design as well as dance production as a whole into higher education settings,” says Tinsley. “I especially admire her success as a woman because I don’t hear of many female lighting designers.”

Tinsley first learned about the scholarship opportunity from Mara Frazier, TRI’s Curator of Dance, while working as the stage manager for the dance department’s reconstruction of Anna Sokolow’s Rooms. After speaking with Frazier and Nena Couch, University Libraries’ Head of Special Collections and Area Studies, Tinsley decided to apply.

“I was very surprised, to say the least, when I found out I had received the scholarship,” says Tinsley. “I was overwhelmed with gratitude and beyond thankful for the award and the opportunity to dive into the archives this coming school year. I have no clue right now where my research will take me; I am just excited to dig in and start searching for something exciting.”

Tinsley hopes the scholarship and her research will further her own development as a lighting designer.

“Since this scholarship has me working through the archives, it will be supporting the lighting design work that I will be doing in the department of dance this coming year,” says Tinsley. “I am hoping to find inspiration from Louise’s methods and work to influence my own as I continue to develop my personal lighting design methods and preferences.”