Identity Designed is a showcase of brand identity projects from around the world.

Extraordinary Moves

Contributed by John Clifford of NYC-based Think Studio.

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Think Studio designed a cohesive identity system for the inaugural season of Extraordinary Moves, an 8-day dance festival in New York City that included The Dancer Films by Judy Dennis, a Jules Feiffer drawing exhibition, and live performances by STREB, Australia’s Strange Fruit, Michael Moschen, and Third Rail Projects.

The design possibilities were wide open, but we were on a tight schedule with a limited budget. Imagery from the eclectic lineup did not work, as it was too specific and did not reflect the breadth of the festival. So, we had the name, and a tagline: A Celebration of Dance through Movement, Film, and Art.

For concepts, we focused on movement. We looked at ways to accomplish this without imagery: abstract spirals, whirling shapes, pinwheels, and graphic arrows, combined with big, bold type. While these all looked dynamic and striking, we didn’t think people would quickly get that this was a dance festival. So, we researched stock photography. The strongest designs were clearly the ones with the colorful, transparent arrows layered on cropped black-and-white photos of arms, legs, and torsos in movement. And, some of those movements certainly look extraordinary to us!

All graphic elements and type were placed at an angle to reinforce the idea of movement. A bright and warm color palette of magenta, red, orange and yellow reflects the lively mood of the festival.

The visuals were applied to banners, flags, program guides, signs, plasma screens, and print and online advertising. A fun component was seven separate banners combined to form a single message—it was great to see our work at that scale.

Extraordinary Moves is co-presented by the World Financial Center and River to River Festival. Attendance was much higher than expected, which we’d love to credit solely to the design. In the words of the review in This Week in New York, it was “simply dazzling.”

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Extraordinary Moves brand identity

Creative direction and design: John Clifford
Design: Jon Lee
Photography: Image Source/Getty Images

Think Studio elsewhere on Identity Designed: Miriam Haskell.

5 much appreciated comments about “Extraordinary Moves”

  1. Looks great, colors and images. The only thing I don’t like are the strokes on the type. They’ve gotta go.

  2. I’ll wait for @gareth to call the shots but will offer my 2 cents here. I like the diagonals that fit together as tiles. They add a dynamic and offer the bigger picture. I also like the black and white photographs but I am less convinced by the typography, colors, and arrows. I feel that the arrows could have been further abstracted to just stripes. They represent linearity without much rhythm – not sure how I feel about this. Colors and typography create a 90′s feeling that does not resonate with me for something that aims to be at the frontier of art. The sponsor logos are quite dominant and I guess the client demanded it. I would have preferred to have them all in a single color to take them back a bit and to group them together at the same time.

  3. Christian, I am not a designer, just a regular girl who likes pretty things, and I totally agree with you.

    Love the photos – strong, clean. But as an observer with no designer background, the colors, the busyness, lines, so much stuff! My eyes can’t concentrate. Wouldn’t “movement” be better expressed with softer lines, or different and not “speed racing train” lines? It’s a little ironic with “extraordinary movement” plastered on the board and thick straight line highlighting it.

    I feel super bad talking smack. I hope the designer will take it as a constructive criticism from a bystander who passed by.

  4. It feels very systematic, especially with the same arrows and type treatments being repeated over and over again. Dance should be expressive, free, and flowing…this doesn’t seem to create that sense. I wonder if varying hand drawn arrows throughout the system would have broken up the repetitiveness? Some more modern and playful typefaces could have been explored too. Perhaps even a script somewhere to add to the free flowing and carefree nature of dance. Keep in mind, I understand dance can also be very systematic and precise, but to the viewer, it usually doesn’t feel that way. I do like the opposing black and white photos overlayed with the bright colors. The execution could have been more up top day though.

  5. Ugh, really hating those outlines on the text, what is this, Microsoft’s WordArt?

    I like the diagonals, the colours are attractive, perhaps the arrows (particularly on the booklet above) could do with more whitespace to breath, they kind of lock in the text in an enclosure, which is too stressful in my opinion.

    I wish more designers had my state of mind sometimes, so they would stick to the basics, strip back the unnecessary outlines, shadows or whatever! This would be stronger if they ditched the outlines, and possibly took out the black text. I’ve never been a fan of black and white text on the same background, the strength is lost, because the eye is seeing two different kinds of contrasting colours, with the black, the colour behind it appears darker, and for the white, it appears brighter, so what we’re seeing here is a visual mess of both contrasts. Therefore, it’d be best to stick with one or the other, and if it is the black , the designer should seriously think about how well it contrasts with the background colour. In this example, neither of the colours (aside from yellow) are working too great with the black text. The black text just ‘muddies’ the background colour up, just dirties it, and dilutes the strength.

    Dynamic, yes. Needs work/reconsideration, yes.

    @Lana, your opinion is highly valid, and a bit of critique is fine, I’m sure the designers appreciate even the strongest opinions, as reading them can help them to reflect on where they went wrong, what can be improved and so on.

    That’s design in a nutshell @Lana, design something, reflect on it, consider changes/improvements, move forward and avoid making similar mistakes.

    Oh, and definitely, the dance should most definitely be expressed as free flowing lines, we’ve seen arrows before, they’re not exciting anymore, definitely we need a human drawn, free line/motion. I’m sure they’ll consider that.

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