Re: Troika in Europe

Mark Coniglio (
Tue, 23 Dec 1997 08:36:13 -0500

>Thanks Mark and Dawn for filling us in on your recent tour and
>demonstrations, even in cold conditions.
> you wrote
>>We performed "In Plane" in a small theater at the Bauwkunst (School of
>>Architecture) as part of Scott deLahunta's five-part series on
>>technology in the arts..... We also gave a short
>>presentaion at the New Media & Education conference that Scott had
>>organized, explaining the basic ideas about the MidiDancer sensory system
>>and speculating on how it might be used in schools.

>I would be interested in learning how the host institution (School of
>Architecture) got involved, what your audience was like (architects,

I think that Scott can best answer this, but my understanding is as
follows: in Holland the art schools and the academic schools are form two
distinct entities. Under the "art" heading comes the fine arts, theater,
dance and architecture. So, the School for New Dance Development, for whom
Scott works, is allied with the School of Architecture. Thus, we ended up
the small lecture hall/theater in the allied Bauwkunst, or School of
Architecture. I don't think that the audience was specifically
architechture related, though I could be wrong. Scott could perhaps
describe the constiuents better...

>Also, could we hear more about Scott's conference, and the
>relationship you all see between dance/technology (stage and professional
>level workshops) in the arts and in education, why is d/t now becoming
>interesting to education, or is it not so much dance but new media
>technologies in education or as educational tools?

Well, that was the question we had to ask ourselves when Scott invited us
to speak. I don't think that you should infer that d/t is becoming
interesting to education, because I don't think that most of the people we
spoke to had considered the possibility. Definitely the interest centered
around the idea of New Media being used in educational settings.

>What tools were
>discussed, and for what learning objectives? How does your MidiDancer
>sensory system work educationally, in what areas of education or art school

>Are these programs for schools in general or performing arts
>schools in particular? how does dance figure in educational and
>promotional literature?

We plan to use our technology in an educational setting when give our
Live-I Workshop this spring at CalArts and in Italy. The purpose of the
workshop is to allow advanced students the opporunity to learn more about
the ways in which they can use technological tools and media in the
creation of their performances. But I don't think that this very specific
kind of education is what the thrust of this particular conference was

Instead, it probably relates more to the first incarnation of the Live-I
Workshop which we gave last year to novice artists, i.e., people that had
never made a performance before. And what we were able to do with our
technological tools and instruments was to help create ways that these
inexperienced, but entusiastic, people could "perform" music or some other
media without the prerequisite of many years of preparation. (Read "piano
lessons.") This means that the focus was on creativity and expression, not
on technique.

And this is where we focussed in our talk, on the possibilities of using
these instruments to allow a child the possibility of controlling sound or
video or light with their movements. Aside from the obvious possibilities
of the kindergarten interactive "rhythm band" (imagine a classroom full of
6 year olds wired up to their interactive sensors, jumping around and
making a glorious noise) there are more serious possiblities. Late last
year I saw a videotape of some work done by my friend Todd Winkler, who had
been working with a person from Everett Dance Theater (I believe) in
Providence. They had used STEIM's BigEye software to allow Paraplegics and
other differently abled folks to make music with very limited movement. The
children were clearly thrilled by their chance to, perhaps for the first
time, make music under their own volition. It was quite a moving tape to
watch, and showed a specific area of education that could be explored using
new technologies.

>[This makes me think of the extraordainary Cirque du Soleil performances
>("Quidam") we saw here in Houston.]

Which makes me think of Elizabeth Streb, who we just saw. But I'll tackle
that in another post.

>Mark, can you comment on differences or links you perceived between
>dance/technology research & thinking in Holland/continent and in England?

Ah, Johannes, I wish I had been in both places long enough to know the
answer to that question! All that I can report is that there is interest
and that people are approaching this work in a number of ways. I only heard
snippets from the folks in London, as we Yankees did most of the talking.
Perhaps it would be best to encourage some of the people that I met, who I
know are on this list, to post a bit of info about their work. Brandon from
Middlesex College for instance.

>I also would love to hear a more extensive report, perhaps from Susan, on
>Digital Dancing.

Hear, hear.

Hopefully that answers some of your questions.

Happy Holidays,

Mark Coniglio, Artistic Co-Director |
Troika Ranch |