The way you make me feel*

How technology expands the experience of the dancer


First of all, we need to question why do we dance? Dancing is an activity strongly connected to the sensorial field of the human being, a kind of brain mechanism of dance. There are some special neuroanatomical connections that we have that other primates don’t seem to have as strongly. Those connect to areas of our brain that are involved in planning movements to areas that analyze sound and that’s what you do when you perceive a beat or move to a beat. You have to coordinate what you hear with what you do in a very sophisticated way like we do when we speak, for example. In today’s culture, it’s sort of an optional activity, but it still seems to have a really important relationship to brain function. Something about moving together in synchrony to music bonds you, gives you a sense of bonding to another person and that sort of makes a lot of sense. If you look around the world, dance is still largely a social phenomenon, something that people do in groups that do make them feel connected to each other.

Frederico Phillips and Maria Takeuchi - Art and technology join to redefine dance

Frederico Phillips and Maria Takeuchi – Art and technology join to redefine dance

By now we’ve seen a digital revolution in most art forms. Although until very recently, dance has remained a kind of analog anomaly.

Dancers are now challenged to dance with dynamic objects, against powerful live projections and/or within complex sensing spaces. Dance-technology grew out of artistic experimentations with interactive technologies, especially motion sensing, tracking, and capturing tools, and has been an important site for the development of computational systems alongside choreographic research.

Dance, as an art form, has always evolved. The same is obviously true for technology. The link between dance and technology is not new, even if in the early days it involved only what we now think of as the traditional use of theatrical lighting. But over the last fifty years, technology has evolved at such a rapid rate that it has outpaced the way artists have integrated it into their work. Opportunities to create new aesthetics, new methods of training and new avenues to reach audiences are very exciting in the twenty-first century. Nonetheless, it is important that technology does not overpower the integrity of the creation of authentic works of art.

Braiding technology with culture

Braiding technology with culture

Technology impacts in our sensorial field in many ways. And in dance, it’s not an exception.

As technology changes, we, as a society must learn to adapt to it. The arts are not immune to this trend; and in fact, it appears that technology is opening new doors to new audiences. It already changed the way many people access to dance and also the perceptions of what dance is, or can be. But the long-term effects of these changes are yet to be seen.

Martha Graham, an American modern dancer, and choreographer once said “No artist is ahead of his time. He is his time.” And by tapping into the technology of our time, we’re excited to see what these dancers and artists can do. What happens at the crossroads of dance and new technologies, and how technology might interfere with dance creation to produce something different?

In the Dance Lab With Martha Graham

In the Dance Lab With Martha Graham


* This article was originally published in the book “Dancing– Alternative designs for clubs” by Non Architecture Competitions [2018]

Image: Cover of the book “Dancing – Alternative designs for clubs”

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