Digital Dance

From Assistant to Performer: The Changing Roles of Technologies in Digital Dance by Zeynep Gunduz/ The Interactive Digital Choreography by Ludmila Martinez Pimentel/ Parcival XX-XI goes Digital: New Media as part of a Gesamtkunstwerk by Johanna Dangel and Gesa Friederichs-Büttner/ Inter_views: On Memory and Recollection An interactive telematic dance performance by Andrea Davidson and Jem Kelly/ Choreographing Topological Spaces within Dance Performance with Real-time Video by Kate Sicchio
Tuesday, 20 September, 2011 - 14:45 - 16:25
Chair Person: 
Sarah Whatley
Zeynep Gunduz
Ludmila Pimentel
Johanna Dangel
Andrea Davidson
Kate Sicchio
Gesa Friederichs-Buttner
Jem Kelly

From Assistant to Performer: The Changing Roles of Technologies in Digital Dance

by Zeynep Gunduz

According to Baugh (2005), in terms of the function of technologies in performance, most often technologies have served to assist the performance. Baugh claims that the history of integration of technologies in performance has created a certain mode of perception, which he refers to as the “hierarchy of perceptual importance”. According to Baugh, the hierarchy of perceptual importance places the performer center stage while the technology remains in the periphery.

Also in the art form of dance, the role of technologies is most often reduced to that of assistance. Technologies are, generally speaking, considered to compliment the choreography and expand the corporeality of the dancing body. In other words, the integration of technologies into dance does indeed largely operate on the basis of what Baugh calls hierarchy of perceptual importance.

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that this hierarchy of perceptual importance no longer holds when we consider dance performances that integrate recently developed motion-tracking based real time interactive technologies. Via a case study of a digital dance performance Glow (2006, G. Obarzanek, F. Weiss), dance reviews, and literature on digital dance, this paper argues that Glow’s choreography changes the conventional center-periphery mode of perception to one of center-center. Moreover, it argues that Glow allows a mutual interaction between the animate and inanimate elements onstage, which transforms the role of technologies into a performer, and thus, the relationship between dancer and technology into a duet.

The Interactive Digital Choreography: Innovative Women in the Dance History

by Ludmila Martinez Pimentel

We are interested here in highlight relevant aspects and innovations of some studies that describe the choreographic implications in interactive art based on movement, as well as some experimental and theoretical references proposed by women who had a pioneering role in the History of Dance.

We are interested to describe, analyze and propose to dance a new concept: the concept of Interactive Digital Choreography. So our focus is in the digital choreographic possibilities with interactive quality, and contributions and new ideas proposed by women who participated in the recent history of Interactive Dance. It rather is an attempt to write the history of dance in interface with new technologies, highlighting those contributions often not revealed in official written, and generally male, history of dance.

Parcival XX-XI goes Digital: New Media as part of a Gesamtkunstwerk

by Johanna Dangel and Gesa Friederichs-Büttner

Parcival XX-XI (2010/2011) is a transdisciplinary political dance-theatre production by the Company urbanReflects. It interweaves elements of New Dance, Digital Media and socially relevant questions and unites them to a gesamtkunstwerk.

In Parcival XX-XI, we investigate possibilities and limitations of Digital Media in a participatory performance. We actively include the audience into the creation of the play. Passive spectators merge into active performers and can thus collaborate in designing the experience of Parcival XX-XI for oneself and the other spectators.


First, we introduce how in our production a.) the dancer and b.) the audience can interact with digital content as they perform with and through responsive technology-based interfaces. Second, we discuss to what extent digital media can significantly support and enhance the performer's 'abilities' in the context of aesthetic experience and narration / dramaturgy.


On the one hand, we evaluate the rehearsal process of Parcival XX-XI and reflect on why we excluded certain digital media elements. On the other hand, we explore how the integration of selected digital media affects a) the performer / the production and b) the audience / reception during the performance. To do so, we focus on the following questions: What happens in case of failing technology? What happens if the user (performer or audience) is incapable of properly using the offered technology? What happens if the selected digital medium does not produce catchy moments?

The presentation is planned as a dialogue. While Gesa Friederichs-Büttner exposes the possibilities of participatory digital media elements in performances, Johanna Meier reflects on the limitations.

Inter_views: On Memory and Recollection An interactive telematic dance performance

by Andrea Davidson and Jem Kelly

Current debates on telematic forms in art and performance often centre on notions of immediacy, presence and virtual representation, challenging conventions concerning the perception of time and memory. In non-media-driven modes of performance, the notion of immediacy encompasses the reception and perception of semiotic systems at work simultaneously with their presentation: the performer's physical body is perceived directly along with movement, actions or speech onstage. In technology-driven forms like telematic performances, not only is the mediatised vision of the body and/or scenographic elements presented as a re-presentation of the physical body and narrative in a complementary digital form, but also, the transmission of computerized information, principally through video streaming, often produces temporal delay, or time-lag, between the transmission and reception of elements of a given semiotic system.

This time-lag is the focus of Inter_Views, an interactive telematic dance and theatre performance devised and staged by Jem Kelly and Andrea Davidson. Inspired by Bergson's notions of durée and memory, notably, two memories, regressive memory, oriented towards the past, and habit or prolongation memory, oriented towards the future, Inter_Views, as a new media creation, tests Bergson’s notions of memory and their link to the perception of time and space.

The paper will analyse how, contrary to other digital dance performances that use technologies as means to ‘embody’, ‘augment’ or transform the live presence of dancers, here, an interaction between present and past is established whereby physical and virtual images play on the audience's perception and recollection of actions. The project innovates by presenting actions that are currently taking place as well as those that have already taken place and those that are predicted to occur as a form of future memory. 

The paper will then focus on the work’s visual device that creates a temporal and spatial mise-en-abyme conceived to map out a memory space in which the dancers and interacting “spectator-instructors” participate in a collaborative intentionality structured at the intersection of temporal immediacy and delay. It will notably be shown how a palimpsest of moments in an unfolding story creates a form of re-embodied memory that is simultaneously reactive and interpretative.

Choreographing Topological Spaces within Dance Performance with Real-time Video

by Kate Sicchio

This paper will explore how the use of real-time video projection in live dance performance creates various types of spaces for choreography and how these spaces result in a topological approach to dance-tech work.

Within the research, the types of space identified within choreography with real-time video projections, including physical space, camera space, projection space, and compositional space. By examining Massumi (2002) and Rotman’s (2009) discussions of topology, these spaces can be considered topological as they have transformative relationships, continuous functions between spaces, and are not defined by Euclidean geometry. The use of topology to understand this spatial configuration reflects topology as a system for movement and continuous change,

How these topological spaces are choreographed and incorporated into the choreographic process informs the craft and technique of the devising work with real-time video projection. An underlying practice-as-research approach is reflected in the use of performance work and the creation of performance works by the researcher to both develop the concepts of space and interrogate the main issues within these spaces. It provides the field of choreography with further explorations of how one may consider space when making dance work and how one may incorporate interdisciplinary approaches into the creation of dance work for black box theatre spaces.