Re: dance/tech/education (warning: quite long)

David Rodger (
Tue, 6 Oct 1998 06:57:42 +1000

David Capps wrote:
>I have been acting as the University of Colorado's Teaching with Technology
>Liaison for the Theatre and Dance Department, and have been active in two
>specific projects:
>1) a server-based performance review/critique/feedback system whereby film
>documents of student work (dance and theatre) are made available for close
>scrutiny by faculty and students with the capability of intra-document
>annotations and editing, ongoing exchange outside of actual studio time,
>and filing and preservation for career dossiers.

I see this as something like a means for preserving or transmitting records
of dance developments and performances. Surely (since I'm not in dance
education, I'm guessing here) one of the most difficult tasks is having
students access such records, be they film ,video, notation, etc.,
particularly for those studying, or with an interest in, dance history.
Although it'd be a mammoth task to make this material available on-line,
the navigability and portability of the web and its components might make
this sort of thing viable. I think perhaps that is not what David was
thinking of, but he inspired me!

At which point, Doug's response is valid:
>I would add my frustration with dance/tech prponants who ignore the
>history of >dance for the camera which includes cine-dance and video-dance
>over the last >100 years. The creation of quick time movies etc, without
>the historical >refence of the genre that preceeded it and in many cases
>addressed and solved >numerous problems now facing new meda practices, is
>a bit like reinventing the >wheel.

I'd be the first to admit the inadequacy of letterbox-sized QT movies, but
their production and availability might at least help in educating about
past practices.

(Long-time readers of this list will recall that I have been skeptical of
real-time web technologies such as streaming because of the very nature of
the Internet itself, but this sort of objection needn't preclude the use of
the medium in the way I have suggested.)

Was there mention some months ago of linking software like Labanwriter with
graphics packages like Lifeforms, or (going the opposite way) interfacing
motion capture systems with notation or choreographic software? (I recall
speaking with Scott Sutherland, our venerable moderator, in Seattle in 1995
about this very thing.) Such developments might provide a means of
reconstructing or analysing in one medium records archived in another.

>We'll present a paper at the IDAT in Arizona in February.

Oh, did I miss something? What is IDAT? (Responses may be private if you
feel you're repeating yourselves.)

>I've also been responsible for sponsoring workshops and lectures
>encouraging our faculty to think into their habitual teaching strategies
>for ways to apply computer technology. Though we have complained regularly
>that the gridlock surrounding compression of film documents into useable
>file sizes and general desktop capabilities for playback, with the
>encouragement (financial as well as general cheerleading) of our
>university, we're getting more and more engaged in the task of educating
>the computer makers/movers about what they can do that will lead to genuine
>quality improvements in our work rather than mutely following the lead of
>all the bells and whistles.

I fear that curricula and pedgogy might get bogged down in the bells and
whistles, just as a number of multimedia pieces (not always involving
dance) have, so I'm happy to read that last sentence. One does well to
recall Rothwell's Law (sorry, Nick, I have to paraphrase): "No piece of
gear is rendered less useful by the addition of any newer piece of gear."
Or, from a performance art piece here in Melbourne a few years back
involving skateboard-triggered samples of Frank Sinatra songs: "Where's the
_art_, man?"

>I'm really looking forward to hearing about many interesting ideas at IDAT,
>but especially about the extent to which the real-time/real-space/real-body
>dance practitioners (I'm firmly in that camp) are learning how to actively
>shape the future of the technology.

Well, I wouldn't hold your breath on the real-time if you're thinking of
doing anything on the net or using IP. Can someone explain to me how
reliable real-time will ever be achieved on a packet-switching network?

Scott wrote (in his polemic for the day):
>But it is the non-representational aspect of dancing -- its temporal mode
>of disappearing and the extreme sophistication of movement (and physical
>technique/ experience/ memory-- not the same as presence) operating within
>this temporal context which is undeveloped within these visual and
>performance art 'body' projects... and subsequently in the digital arts.

Any viewer of moving pictures or moving bodies, or any listener to music or
sound, may become aware of its ineffibility and transience. Do you perhaps
mean that, since many of these projects are interactive (for the
viewer/user -- CD-ROMs and the like), they less "performed" than played?
(i.e. The user can return, again and again if desired, to the same point
and the same combinations of elements.)

>This is why I am skeptical when some of the European Media Arts centers for
>example look to collaborate with dance artists without an understanding of
>dance making (and training). I welcome such collaborations of course,
>because there is a base of knowledge and facilities there which is
>necessary to progress developments in dance/ tech, etc. -- but one has to
>take into account the possibility that in those contexts the dancing is

By "dance making", I presume you mean activities that may culminate in
performance. Any one element in a multimedia may be diminished by the
presence or activity of any other. Does anyone here remember, amid the
impossibly complicated camera moves and computer graphics, any of the music
from "Batman Forever"? ;-)

Regards, David

David Rodger: Audio Engineering; Pool Operations; Aquatics Training
RESEARCH -- Motion Capture in Music --
ADZOHU -- Music and Dance from Ghana --
"It is always a thrill to observe music software making its descent from
the rarefied origins of a research tool, reaching its natural level as a
device to aid in the sale of alcoholic beverages." --David Zicarelli