What’s electroluminescence? 

The electroluminescent material is composed of phosphorus. When you apply an alternating current, for example electrodes or a copper wire, the phosphor lights up. Creating a beautiful light that emits little heat and consumes very little energy. The only problem is that electroluminescence emits a buzz-like sound… quite annoying! Put it where it won’t bother anyone and you should be good!  

Electroluminescence can be found in different forms:  

-EL Cord  

-Ribbon EL  

-EL Stickers  

-EL Panel 

EL Cord
EL Cord
EL Panel
EL Panel


We first used this type of technology for the cosmonaut costume in our TOTEM show. We installed a system with a white EL Cord to which we added autonomous batteries that were connected to a switch. Those were directly installed to the cosmonauts’ helmets. To brighten up the cosmonauts’ clothes and create an even more breathtaking effect when these characters arrive on stage, we painted them with neon paint. 

TOTEM - Cosmonauts
TOTEM – Cosmonauts

To discover the final result, look at the excerpt at the head of the article. 

To make the costume of the cellist’s character in Zumanity, the team made thermoformed pieces (heat-molded pieces) and embellished parts of the costume with blue EL Cord, accentuating the costume’s futuristic effect. Don’t the result looks amazing? 

Usually, we prefer to opt for the programmed LED light strips because they can create several different light effects. Electroluminescence is therefore not a process we often use in the design of costumes, simply because it’s not as versatile. 

Zumanity – Celist
Blue EL Cord in a 3D printed piece
Blue EL Cord in a 3D printed piece

Want to keep reading about our bright costumes’ series? Here are two other interesting articles: 

Bright Costumes – Optical Fiber

Bright costumes – DEL : a universe of possibilities

Sources:  Atelier numérique, Costumes and Accessories of Cirque du Soleil 

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