Chris Wilkie from Thaumatology Visual Associates produces extraordinary special events and theatrical productions. Entwining pyrotechnics and inventive LED lighting with performance dance, his works have entertained at events both here and overseas.
Tens of thousands of Kiwis have welcomed in the New Year at the stroke of midnight to Chris’s fireworks and dancers at iconic summer event Rhythm & Vines. In the UK, many more have seen his work as part of Cirque du Soleil.
Chris has been hiring Segway Personal Transporters (PTs) from Segway New Zealand since 2005, rigging them with fireworks, LED lighting and colourful costumed characters. He was one of the first to recognise the new, unique creative opportunities this self-balancing machine offers performers.
His latest creation is this incredible manta ray that glides elegantly about on a Segway PT.
The manta ray will be seen next as part of a special Cirque du Soleil performance on an ice rink in Kuwait. Chris is set to depart for the Middle East this weekend. The manta ray was developed to operate on a stage or other common flat surface where standard Segway PT tyres offer excellent traction. Accordingly, Chris has had to come up with a way to get traction on ice.
Chris has developed specially modified wheels for the Segway PT that offer sure grip on the ice during the performance. He removed the tyres and added dozens of radial metal spikes that he drilled in through the plastic wheel. Initially, there were too few spikes, and the spikes themselves were too long – extending too far into the ice to the point that the Segway PT had difficulty moving at all. Doubling the number of spikes and a night in the workshop with the disc grinder (angle grinder) to shorten them soon fixed the issue.
Find out more at the Galactic Stingray website.