Quibi's '&MUSIC' delves into Ariana Grande's 'Sweetener World Tour' and how she wanted to be heard and not seen
The singer was personally involved in every aspect of the show, including lighting and choreography, and had a very specific vision in mind
Ariana Grande has always liked to take on a hands-on approach with the projects she headlines, and when she embarked on her 'Sweetener World Tour', the singer's uncompromising vision was brought to life by her crew. And now, Quibi's '&MUSIC' gives us more glimpses into just how it all went down.
The SWT was Ariana's biggest tour, earning $80 million and managing to surpass her previous tours before it was even halfway through. The tour was in support of both her 'Sweetener' and 'Thank U, Next' albums. And it was also the tour that really showed fans that Ariana was more than just a vocalist. Not only was she an active participant in creating both the albums, but she also personally participated in every aspect of putting the SWT together — including lighting, production, and choreography.
SWT's creative director and production designer LeRoy Bennett and lighting director Jason Baeri worked closely with Ariana to bring her ideas to life, including creating the "ethereal" and "abstract" look of each set. Bennett described her stage as being "more of an installation art piece, versus a lot of over-the-top flashy things," adding "It's a lot more elegant, in a way. But it's young and fresh in the same breath" and describing the show as being "light, airy, and spacious."
He also added that Ariana had specific ideas of using spheres and moons as the base on which the show was built, and this allowed the show to maintain a dreamy, feminine vibe.
And while it all sounds wonderful, it also really points to the difficult task choreographers Brian and Scott Nicholson had ahead of them. Known to many as "the twins," the Nicholsons' job was made even tougher due to the fact that nearly everything including the stage and runway was inflatable, and all the lighting was accomplished using a whole lot of projectors placed in different locations as opposed to the more standard LED lights.
Ariana was very clear she wanted to blend in with her dancers and the brothers had their task cut out for them.
"She likes to be heard and not seen, versus the other way around," says Bennett, adding that he worked extremely closely with the choreographers and the rest of the creative team to put the SWT together and make it look as seamless as possible.
Quibi's '&MUSIC' delves even further into this aspect of the SWT, showing us more of how Ariana got her lighting and choreography teams to make her blend into the stage and performance as opposed to having her stand out. Most shows are usually set up to have the lead be lit brightly, highlighting them in the most flattering way possible, making them hard to miss no matter where in the stadium you are located.
But Ariana wanted her performance to be centered on her vision, which meant she could not be under a spotlight for the show. Instead, the lighting was designed such that imagination would be projected onto the stage and everything from the sets and props to the dancers and Ariana herself would be awash with thematic colours.
With that in mind, the brothers had to craft choreography so that Ariana could be a part of the experience she was creating. She is often seen amidst her dancers, not in front of them, and is very rarely doing anything solo while on stage unless she's belting out one of her signature notes. They even created new choreography for songs like 'Breathin', which Ariana previously performed without any dancing, allowing the whole show to be an immersive experience that never breaks away from its own format.
And thanks to all the hard work of the crew, this will probably remain one of the most iconic tours as well as one of Ariana's most iconic eras ever.