• Meet Ileigh Reynolds, Entertainment by Design

    Ileigh Reynolds transforms events into experiences.

     
    FROM THE Summer 2017 ISSUE
     

I leigh Reynolds set up shop at the intersection of art and entertainment when she founded Animate Objects Physical Theater in 2006. It’s only fitting for a woman who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at Miami’s New World School of the Arts, then went on to perform in modern-dance companies and as a showgirl, cruise ship dancer and aerialist.

“I’ve got that more formal, traditional and artistic side mixed with the razzledazzle, sparkles, glitter, fake eyelashes and feathers of the entertainment world,” Reynolds explains. 

She moved her company to Seattle in 2010, bringing some of that glitter to the notoriously gray Pacific Northwest. “I love the sun and culture of Miami,” Reynolds says, “but I love the lifestyle and ethics out here. I feel like these are my people.

Animate Objects started out as a nonprofit dance, circus arts and physical theater company, but Reynolds soon caught the attention of event planners with a choreographed performance rappelling down the side of a building, and was called on to do more high-profile events. “Pretty soon I got more and more calls to do corporate events, and I started realizing I really loved the event entertainment. People didn’t purchase tickets for a show, they’re just going to their company gala or awards show, and it’s a surprise for them.”

Reynolds says events challenge her creativity. “We get to create this whole experience just for that night, for that moment, for those people. … We provide handcrafted entertainment experiences.”

From strolling performers to a full-blown production involving aerialists, stilt-walkers and fire dancers, Animate Objects can produce a unique experience for any size event. “I’m an entertainment designer,” Reynolds says.

And that entertainment can save the day when everything else is falling apart: If dinner is late, attendees can be distracted by a spectacular show. “Our performers can really interact and help change the direction of the event more than an awesome centerpiece can,” Reynolds notes. 

Of her company’s performances, she says: “My job is about bringing joy into the world. It’s those moments when you see someone’s face just light up in awe and elation. … We’re taking people to a different reality for a minute.” 

TED’s five-year tenure in the Northwest has been filled with innovation, lessons and surprises. 

 

When looking for inventive event ideas or fascinating speakers, planners should turn to the annual event that continues to shake up the industry.