Re: Dance Software

Robert Wechsler (
Mon, 4 May 1998 10:12:59 +0200

>Hi All,
>Is there are list somewhere of available software packages appropriate
>for dance? I mean I know about Life forms and have heard about a
>ballet CD-Rom, and have been using Labanwriter for years.... but what
>else is there?

A good question. In a sense, this is what everyone is asking.

I think you began to answer your own question at the end when you said,
"some interactive sound software."

There are a number of artists and technologists playing around today with
various methods of sensing dancers' movements and then converting these to
sounds, projections, lighting changes, etc. These include systems that work
with video cameras, infra-red beams, touch-sensitive dance floors, special
costumes with built-in position or motion sensors, electrodes attached to
the dancers' bodies, and so on.
Few are available "off-the-shelf", that is, few are products you can buy and
then plug in at home. Most are still rather "specialized" requiring a
more-or-less skilled operator, and obviously most require special, sometimes
expensive, equipment.
Some of them work in rather obscure ways, by this I mean it is not always
clear just which movements have had which effects. This may sound like a
small point, but actually it is a large one. Unless there is some clarity
between cause and effect, you can't really get much "interaction" out of
them. Rather you have things happening automatically. That is, a true
back-and-forth of energy and impulse means artists or audience have to be
able to feel and respond to the secondary media they are affecting.

The work is fun, as you and colleagues discovered. but... I mean,
particularly when you have someone keen to help get it up and running,
relatively bug-free etc. That is, for a dancer, at least for THIS dancer,
working with computers is often a really frustrating experience! It can go
v e r y s l o w l y.
sometimes I go to the studio with my computer intending to spend a day mixed
between moving and computing, and guess what? Sometimes I do not end up
moving. It just tends to happen. They may not be exactly "dehumanizing",
but they sure can be "de-dance-anizing"!

We want to be able to get up and have IT happen! We want SATISFACTION!
NOW!!! Some of the most enthusiastic supporters of work of this kind have
never actually used it very much. I think this goes for choroegraphy
softwares as well. In the beginning there is this -- what Germans call the
"Aha" effect. Everyone is delighted. at first.

Well, that's my short discourse. I'm sure someone has compiled a list of
software for use with dance (I would be interested to see it). We
(Palindrome) have developed a few programs which anyone may have for the asking.

>Thought some of you might like to know about the...
>Dance and Technology workshop for secondary teachers/ Adelaide, SA
>The workshop went really well, and all the teachers were very
>enthusiastic, they all want more!! I was expecting reactions/concerns
>that computer technology might 'dehumanise' the teaching of dance,
>etc... but they were all positive. We looked at the internet, they
>were shown life forms, and how to operate some interactive sound
>software. It was a fun day!!
>Cheers Mary-Lou


Robert Wechsler and Helena Zwiauer Phone: (49) 911-397472
Palindrome Dance Company Fax: (49) 911-397472
Johannisstr. 42 / 90419 Nčrnberg