Dance x Multimedia Series has dancers interacting with technology
Text: Vanessa Yung
DANCE X MULTIMEDIA SERIES
Three international dance groups will offer their own take on a popular art form that combines technology and multimedia in the "Dance x Multimedia Series".
This month, Taiwan's Anarchy Dance Theatre, Britain's Motionhouse, and MIDASpaces from Ireland will stage their multisensory shows in the city at the invitation of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.
The beauty of these cross-genre productions lies in the boundless possibilities, says MIDASpaces, which stands for "mapped, interactive and digitally augmented spaces".
"We are interested in examining how technology can create a new vocabulary for performers through their interactions with live visuals and sound," says the collective. "The question of whether the technology should be viewed as a co-performer or an extension of the performer, is something which we find exciting."
Their show, Codes 2.0, investigates mankind's evolving relationship with technology and the patterns — or codes — that emerge from both the artificial and the natural world. The group has teamed up with choreographer Cindy Cummings who came up with the current, more balanced version that emphasises the mutual influence.
"The piece is choreographed as a show, but there is always an element of response and change from how our dancers interact with each other, and interact with the parameters of the technology. In this way the technology itself becomes a crucial part of the creative process," adds MIDASpaces.
That effort to truly merge the multimedia elements into the show instead of being something separate or complementary is crucial, although it is not always easy.
For Kevin Finnan, artistic director of Motionhouse, it is one of the biggest challenges the dancers have to overcome. "There are moments of daring that the dancers must produce, and yet, at the same time the show requires real discipline in the dancing," says Finnan.
"So much practice and repetition is necessary. They have to be constantly in time with the film. So it makes great demands on dancers to be in the right place at the right time."
This is especially true in his water-inspired show, Scattered. This has a half pipe-shaped set with a vertical slope that emulates a giant wave and doubles as the projection surface. The dancers are continually running up the four-metre high wall.
"Choreography is about creating a cohesive world in which the action and images that you see all seem to hang together," says Finnan. "We make the whole thing seem totally integrated. You're plunged into it, and things come bursting out of it."
Anarchy Dance Theatre's Seventh Sense is challenging in another way, as the variables include audience participation. The idea is to give life to the stage, and turn it into an additional "dancer" that interacts with the performers and audience alike. In turn, the show is made more human. "Our idea is to encourage the audience to experience our show," says Jeff Hsieh Chieh-hua, artistic director-choreographer of Anarchy Dance Theatre.
"They actively take part in the show and make choices as to how they interact with what's happening. They share an evolving digital environment with the dancers."
While Finnan sees mixing technology with performance as a way to make for a more visceral experience, MIDASpaces prefers to describe it as "an evolution of one strand of performance".
"There is definitely a surge of interesting work in this field, in part due to the availability and affordability of new technology, and as a reflection of the age in which we live," it says. "We see this technology sticking around, although the aesthetics and the technology itself may not be as apparent in the future.
"New technology just becomes part of the lexicon; another tool for communication. At the moment, we are enjoying using it as both a tool and a medium."
- Seventh Sense, HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity Multimedia Theatre, Kowloon June 13, 8pm; June 14, 2pm, 5pm, 9pm; June 15, 3pm; HK$200
- Scattered, Sai Wan Ho Civic Centre Theatre, 111 Shau Kei Wan Rd, Sai Wan Ho, June 20-21, 8pm; June 21 and 22, 2.30pm, HK$150-HK$300
- Codes 2.0, Studio Theatre, HK Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Rd, TST, July 11 and 12 8pm; July 12 and 13, 3pm, HK$200, HK$260 Urbtix. Inquiries: 2268 7323