Miral Kotb blends music, dance, illusion and light with cutting edge technology in the show iLuminate
“I am a light composer,” says Miral Kotb, founder of iLuminate. She’s not wrong. If you ever wondered what sound looked like without fancy smancy expensive equipment, Miral can show you. Well, she does show you. And, that’s not all she can reveal. After a talk with Off The Strip (OTS) for our “Behind the Scenes” series, she displayed a heck of a lot more, most of which has determination at its core.
What is iLuminate?
Officially, the show is a group of dancers who are outfitted in custom LED light suits and perform along to some of your favorite songs. Unofficially, it is one of the dandiest dance shows these big brown eyes have seen. But, I am not the only one to think so. iLuminate was named “Best New Act in America” by America’s Got Talent.
It’s blend of music, dance, illusion and technology comes to life with one of the best playlists on the Strip. It quite simply is some of the most fun you will have with the lights off.
One look at any of the social media posts from iLuminate and you can see it for yourself. Dancers pop a lock to a beat where their every moment is punched up with a color change in their outfit. Want to pick up a prominent beat? Change a color. How about letting the audience know who is a boy dancer and who is a girl dancer? Change a color. What if you want to bring attention to a certain body part? Well, ya change the color. I think you are seeing the point here.
The chameleon ability is far more complicated than the words it takes to describe it. It’s computer programming done at a level so high, it would make Neo from The Matrix keep a constant supply of Advil on hand. It is ones and zeros from here to infinity. It’s more characters on a screen than lights on the Strip. And that is precisely what Miral loves about it.
“What I’ve learned is, to be honest, I feel better when I have no choice,” says Miral. That is a situation she found herself in a couple of times in life. “When I’m ultra focused I see what I need to do. Sometimes when you have choices that actually makes it harder,” she continues. “But when I knew that I had no choice but to survive. That is when my determination kicked in.”
Life put her in that very position in 2001. After graduating Columbia University, she took a job at Bloomberg. The higher paying job was a responsible choice with the ability to pay off her college loans and great health insurance. When she decided to pursue her love of dancing and leave Bloomberg behind, she thought it prudent to get her ducks in a row health-wise – dancers at that time weren’t known for the best health insurance. “And that is when I found out I had cancer,” she says.
“It took away the dream of dancing because it was in my right hip. Since we had to get the tumor out and do radiation my hip was never the same. And I found out that I couldn’t be a mother and that also shifted the way I approached life as well.” In other words, she had no choice but to survive.
Where she did have a choice was how she moved forward. “As a dancer, I wasn’t a very social dancer,” she says. While she loved performing, it was the socialization after the performances that was far from her favorite. Her added love of computer programming didn’t exactly scream social club president either.
“I felt like I didn’t fit anywhere,” she says. So… what to do, what to do?
There’s An App For That
After a visit to the WorldWide Developers Conference at Apple, Miral came across a piece of technology that would change her life. “That’s when I heard about the new wireless chips that could be embedded in anything. So I thought, ‘how could I bring it to the dance?’” she says, recalling the story.
Eventually she married the chip and her iPhone then, violà! “I wanted to find a way to just let the dancer shine while also having the audience see some really cool effects,” she says while speaking of their athleticism and artistry.
Enter the idea of what would become iLuminate. Well, before an entire show would come to mind, a lot would happen. Miral’s idea and software engineering would have her bustin’ a move with the world’s biggest musical artists. She has programmed her patented technology for such Grammy-winning superstars as Christina Aguilera and The Black Eyed Peas. Her work has been featured on MTV’s Video Music Awards, the BET Awards, and Dancing with the Stars (just to name a few). Soon she found her way to America’s Got Talent.
But life threw her another curve ball. In 2017, Miral developed leukemia. Brought on by the beating that her body took while fighting sarcoma, she was in need of a stem cell transplant and more chemo. Luckily, her sister was a match. But, her recovery would mean she would be forced to quarantine for nine months because being exposed to anything could cost Miral her life. Looking back on it, it was preparation for what the rest of the world would have to endure three years later. Again, no choice for Miral but to survive.
She took the time to do more development on her software. And it was a good thing, Miral would soon have an entire show in Las Vegas to bring to light.
‘I Created My Own Field’
“It’s getting more common for people to have two passions, or three passions, or even five passions,” Miral says, when speaking of having to choose between this or that for a career. “I thought I had to choose or that I had to keep mine separate. I never let them blend. But not anymore,” says Miral.
She applies that lesson to everything she does with iLuminate. Perpetually improving and learning, the show has seen a revamp in the time that it’s been in Las Vegas. Don’t get it twisted, the show was amazing before. Now, it’s spectacular.
“I created my own field,” she says. “That’s my happy place.” So, when Miral says, she is a “light composer,” she isn’t wrong. In fact, some of her magical light can be seen on the stage of her iLuminate show. Soon, she hopes to bring more of her light work into her own family. Miral and her husband are hoping to adopt in the future and bring more light to the world.
WHEN: Show dates/dark days – various. Showtimes 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. S, Las Vegas