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Dancers/ Sensing

Through practice and training (including performance and choreography), dancers acquire specialist movement skills that frequently include conceptual/ experiential ways of sensing the space through and in which the body moves. The form of this sensing experience may vary across techniques, but normally has external as well as internal referents. Trigger/ Sensor and networked environments (see remote spaces) are unique spaces for the dancer to work in... spaces in which the sound is given spatiality (as in mapped within certain regions) and one's presence is linked electronically to partners far away. How the dancer experiences this and how this experience informs his or her moving as well as how it might inform the designers of such environments is an open question.

Questions and Answers:

Question/ Request #2: describe some aspect of your experience dancing in the two spaces.

Answer #1: Moving in a triggered environment can be really exciting, somewhat like a treasure hunt or a game as you are searching for the sensor to set off a myriad of sounds/images. It gives the sense that the space is somehow alive and interacting with you. Also the advantage of sound being triggered is that you receive immediate sensory feedback - you hear the space react. The sound (as opposed to the video/ image) also gives a kinesthetic effect because there are sound vibrations that affect one's nervous system, the kinesthesia of the sound is much different than the video being projected on the back screen. Because you don't automatically sense the changes in image if you don't happen to be looking at the screen, the images triggered have a greater impact on those viewing from an audience perspective.

I am still mediating different reactions around the virtual partnering (see Cellbytes). There is something about two bodies moving together in space, sharing a common kinesphere that creates connection- no matter how far apart they are in the space...a sense of physical presence...hearing breath, smelling, seeing etc. Virtual presence is very different for me in that there doesn't seem to be that same transfer of energy between physical bodies. In fact, I sense very little actual connection with the dancer who may be on the screen behind me. This also seems to deal with the way we have been playing with choreography thus far in the process. The choreography doesn't really give me a chance to see the other dancer and move in a way that shows I am intentionally connected...we have been spliting up duets that were created in physically proximity, and then putting them in virtual space. The movement intention is still intended to be done in proximity...perhaps if the movement was created apart so the linkups were intentional? I think the 8 second delay is problematic in that it creates not only space distance, but time distance. More virtuality... However, as a viewer, seeing the two bodies moving together (one virtual, one live) can be quite beautiful, and you do see the connections between the this because the mode of perception is mainly visual? As human creatures we perceive primarily in our "visual" sensing mode in most areas of our lives...especially on the web viewing, the two dimensionality of the screen puts the images in a different relationship that makes them seem more connected (ie. they are within the same frame so we see them as connected entities). (Kristy Topham Petty)

Answer #2: Dancing in the intelligent space in the beginning of the project sensitised me to the notion of triggering and the existence of an electronic field out there responding to the physical movement of the performer. But it still was within the concept of a conventional auditorium. When we started to stream images and data both ways from the two spaces it brought in a whole new sense of extended presence, which is still abstract, but nevertheless part of my sensory eperience now. Getting to know the performers and developing associations and familiarity with movement phrases made that space more tangible. (Jayachandran Palazy)

Answer #3: A dancer's sensorium is a key conductor (amongst others) of their moment to moment experience while performing, and this experience as it manifests (presence?) is a prime component of that which is perceived or watched. This varies greatly from performer to performer -- it's an energetic process and often simultaneously stimulated by the space inside the body/ outside the body and the dynamics of being watched. Thinking/ imaging processes may be involved -- attention techniques such as those proposed by Forsythe in Improvisation Technologies for example. There are many other techniques for this attention. However, attention and/ or felt experience is not enough in itself, nor does one size or technique fit all. These things are essential for and arguably unique to dance, but we haven't had enough time in these interactive/ interface systems to really start to chew on them. However, I do think sensor technologies propose to change the environment in which a dancer may perform/ move/ dance -- there is no reason that this change would not be a qualitative shift in which case it would have significant relevance for dancers. (Scott deLahunta)