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Well-known to dance and theatre audiences alike, lighting designer Jennifer Tipton was born in Columbus, Ohio and attended Cornell University where she majored in English. After graduation, Tipton came to New York to study dance. Her interest in lighting began with a course in the subject at the American Dance Festival, Connecticut College.
Tipton has been awarded two Bessie Awards and a Laurence Olivier Award for lighting dance; her work in that field includes pieces choreographed by Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jiří Kylián, Dana Reitz, Jerome Robbins, Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Dan Wagoner, and Trisha Brown, among many others. Her work in the theatre has garnered a Joseph Jefferson Award, a Kudo, a Drama-League Award, two American Theatre Wing Awards, an Obie, two Drama Desk Awards (the first for The Cherry Orchard and Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf; the second for Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, Waiting for Godot, and Long Day’s Journey into Night), and two Tonys for The Cherry Orchard and Jerome Robbins’ Broadway. Her work in opera includes Richard Jones’s production of Hansel und Gretel and David McVicar’s production of Il Trovatore both at the Metropolitan Opera as well as Aida directed by David McVicar at the Royal Opera House in London. In the fall of 1991 she directed a production of The Tempest at the Guthrie.
Tipton has been an artistic associate with the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge and the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. In 1982, she received the Creative Arts Award in Dance from Brandeis University. She held a Guggenheim Fellowship for the 1986-87 season and received the 1989 Commonwealth Award in Dramatic Arts. In 1991, she received a Dance Magazine Award. She has been a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Theatre Program Distinguished Artist Award, and a grant in the National Theatre Artist Residency Program funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. She received the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in 2001, the Jerome Robbins Prize in 2003 and the Mayor’s Award for Arts and Culture in New York City in April 2004. In 2008, she became the United States Artists Gracie Fellow and a MacArthur Fellow. Tipton also teaches lighting at Yale School of Drama.
Tipton’s lighting has been represented in American Ballet Theatre’s repertory since A Soldier’s Tale in 1971. Among many ballets in the Company’s repertory that she has lit are Amnon V’Tamar, Bach Partita, Le Baiser de la Fée, Ballet Imperial, Brief Fling, Bruch Violin Concerto No.1, Bum’s Rush, Don Quixote (Kitri’s Wedding), Eccentrique, Enough Said, Everlast, Field, Chair and Mountain, Gala Performance, Giselle, The Informer, Interludes, Intermezzo, In the Upper Room, The Leaves are Fading, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s production of The Nutcracker, Alexei Ratmansky’s production of The Nutcracker, The Other, Push Comes to Shove, Raymonda, Grand Pas Hongrois, Sinatra Suite, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Sunset, and Theatre.
Most recently, Tipton created the lighting for the production of Twyla Tharp’s A Gathering of Ghosts, which entered the Company’s repertory in the 2019 Fall season at the David H. Koch Theater. She also designed the lighting for the first productions of Tharp’s The Brahms-Haydn Variations and In the Upper Room. In addition, Tipton created lighting for Tharp’s Bach Partita, Brief Fling, Everlast, Push Comes to Shove, and Sinatra Suite, which were given World Premieres by American Ballet Theatre.