Dance and Technology

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Final Project – Video

Here is a compilation of some dance genres that have emerged in the recent years due to advancements in technologies such as lighting, music and internet broadcasting.

Lighting in Dance

The following videos are all different examples of how lighting has been used in the performance and production of a dance. LED lights have been very popular lately and have been attached to costumes to accentuate dancer’s movements and create outrageous effects.

 

Biped- Depiction of Modern Dance

In this piece, Merce Cunningham used stage lighting as an element in his choreography. He made the dancers perform within the boundaries of the light that was set on the stage. Although this limits the dancers to where they can and cannot dance, it also expands the elements of dance because it brings innovation and creativity to the work.

I performed a piece with a similar concept, only with tape on the group. Our choreographer told us that we could dance anyway we wanted to, however we could not dance in the taped off sections of the room. It seems silly, however, when one performs with these instructions, it’s as if the taped off sections were huge pilliars that you could not go near. It forces dancers to think about their space and parameters more carefully and it allows for collaborative dancing as well.

Twyla Tharp: Pushing Boundaries

 

Twyla Tharp is one of the most iconic choreographers and contributors to the dance industry. All throughout her career, she has been known to take into account the current elements in society and shaping dance to fit these components. She has changed the face of what dance is and had been apart of a wide variety of broadway, modern and ballet pieces. She has pushed the boundaries of almost every style of dance and encourages her dancers to be limitless and open to new forms.

Music and Dance

As if it were any surprise, music and dance have been interrelated for decades. As music genres begin to emerge and take over the world, dance is right alongside, bringing about new styles and techniques. One choreographer in particular, Travis Wall, can be considered the  new face of the style Contemporary, and has been altering the minds of many dancers in the most recent years.

Travis Wall is known for his accentuation of music and genius phrases of movement. He has been featured on television shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars, and tours the country with a number of different dance conventions; spreading his gift of contemporary dance. I had the honor of taking his class on his visits to the Meadowlands, and it was truly an experience different from any other.

The most distinct combination that I learned from him was in 2009, when he taught a piece to the song “Wndowdipper” by Jib Kidder. This song is a compilation of noises and alerts that one might here on a computer. From key strokes to warning signals, this song, the first time I heard it, actually made me think there was a malfunction with the sound system. It’s as if an orchestra of computers are being played to produce music that is really cool to listen to. The bass comes in later in the song and really makes it stand out from any song I have ever heard.

Travis taught the piece over two days, so the first class we learned the computer part of the song. The movements were quite robotic but the element of contemporary dance could still be spotted. There were still technical steps involved, however when moving they did not feel like it; it just felt like movement. When we did the combination to the music for the first time, we were all so amazed that anyone could have thought of such a piece to go with such unique music. As we continued to learn the piece on the second day, we found that the computer parts made us actually think and feel like a robot, and the hiphop section changed our feelings afterwards. It’s not very common to come across a dance that goes from contemporary dance to hiphop in a matter of forty-five seconds. This was honestly an amazing experience, as simple as it may sound.

 

The technology and advances in musical engineering that produced this song, has clearly expanded the world of dance. After this video hit YouTube, the dance community praised Travis Wall on his genius and innovative choreography. Although without this piece of music he may have created another compelling and game-changing piece, nothing would be able to portray this expansion better than this dance.

Technology and Dance Manipulation

Dance is known to be an expressive form of art that can be free flowing and stress relieving. It is also a form of art that has no rules or limits to movements; as long as a body is capable of performing a movement, anything can be achieved in dance. An interesting development in computer software programs have changed the way dances are being created and approached. A choreographer no long needs dancers or needs to be a dancer to create and form a dance. Computer generated pieces are becoming a popular way to structure a dance because it is constructed to a human body.

There are a number of programs available to choreographers and dance creators to engineer what some might call the “perfect” dance. One program in particular, Isadora,  has been mentioned in many of the articles that I have found on the correlation between dance and technology. The program offers the building blocks for choreography that can be linked together in nearly unlimited ways, allowing one to follow his or her artistic impulse. It is only limited by one’s imagination. With over one hundred choices and movement options, phrases can be connected in an infinite amount of ways which allows the user to alter the piece to meet specific needs.

Above is a picture of how Isadora works and is transmitted from body to image, or visa versa. There are other programs available that sketch and save a body’s movements for future use. It is sort of a way to save and store a phrase or set of movements and go back to view them at a later point in time. The modern dance group, Snappy Dance Theater created a piece called “String Beans” that involved a collaboration with a scientist from MIT. As a dancer moved, the projected version of the movement would appear in a series of glowing strings that form the shape of the body. This technology takes a movement and redraws it 15 times per second.

A more famous use of the technology to enhance the production of the choreography of a piece can be seen in Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us” video. For his final tour, Michael Jackson wanted to have an infinite amount of dancers dancing to this particular song and make it seem like there was a large army. Using a computer software program, the production crew was able to replica a million times over the dancers to have what he wanted. This short video shows what the final product would have looked like had the tour opened.

Ballet: The Basics

Classical ballet is known for its structure, discipline and clean lines. It’s presence in the world of dance, as well as art and entertainment, has left a large impact on the way audiences perceive dance. Because of its reputation for harsh training, many believe that ALL  forms of dance are strict; however this is not the case.

A typical ballet class consists of very few components and features. There are, of course, dancers, an instructor, ballet barres and, in many professional settings, a pianist. In the major ballet companies around the world, all of the music that is used during a class is live. A pianist plays according to the movement and steps that the instructor demands. Since the technology is so simply in a class like this, the way a class is conducted can be changed each time and lessons are flexible.

There are not many words or steps in the ballet vocabulary. Only possibly a few over one hundred to be more specific. This limits the amount of steps and pieces a classical ballet instructor can give to his or her students. If you were to go and see a ballet performance, you might notice that many of the steps are repeated over and over again. This may be one of the reasons why ballet is sometimes not see as a very entertaining art. Usually, those who love ballet have experience from learning it or are active in the dance world.

Above is a clip from a ballet class in New York City. The combination that they are doing is called an “Adagio” which means slow and controlled movements. It involves extensions and testing a dancer’s balance. Although this may seem like a simply video with very little significance, one may take notice that each dancer looks almost exactly the same, not just with their attire and hair, but also in their movement and placement. This is a main aspect of classical ballet, one that makes it so strict and slow evolving. It is known as the “old school” technique because of its simple looking movements and musical backgrounds.

As I continue to post in the coming days, you will be able to see the evolution of dance with the introduction of technology. The piano is one of the most basic instruments in the dance world, yet it produces beautiful music and beautiful ballets. This is just one of the many correlations that occur between dance and technology and it will be exciting to post and continue to inform others about them as I find them.

Introduction

The world of dance is constantly changing and evolving. With the introduction of new technology and computer advances, dance has changed dramatically over the years. Originally known for being a classical form of art, dance has expanded from technical movements to mores stylized and music oriented phrases. The relationship between dance and music has become most prominent in the recent years, causing new genres to emerge as a result.

This project blog will display the changes and happenings that are occurring in the dance world as a result of technological advances in society. Aspects regarding lighting production to new music genres that have altered the way dance is perceived and created.