[radical] signs of life
*An interactive, multi-media performance generated from dancers' muscles and blood flow.
Premiere: May 3rd and 4th, 2013 @ EMPAC (Studio 2)
Cover photo by: Marco Donnarumma
[NOTE: This is not the official excerpt.]
Conceived and Directed by: Heidi Boisvert
Choreography: Pauline Jennings
Sound Design: Doug Van Nort
Set and Lighting Design: Allen Hahn
Visual Design: Raven Kwok
Costume Design: Amy Nielson
Sensor Design and Development: Marco Donnarumma
Wireless network and custom armband development: MJ Caselden and Krystal Persaud
The responsive choreography for the hour-long performance was composed in real-time by five dancers from a shared movement database in accordance with pre-determined rules. Outfitted with two wireless sensors each, the dancers--Jennifer Mellor, Ellen Smith Ahern, Hanna Satterlee, Avi Waring and Willow Wonder--created patterns that dissolved from autonomous polyrhythms to intersecting lines as they sliped through generative video and light. Van Nort improvised original multi-channel electroacoustic music live with new interactive sound instruments based on the Donnarumma's XS technology to sculpt a dense web of complex texture and emotion around the audience.
The dance performance evolved through three levels of self-organizing systems choreographically, which were mirrored visually and sonically.
In the first game level, dancers can be seen participating in an adaptation of Conway's Game of Life, which dictates survival between states of loneliness and starvation. As individual movement triggers fellow dancers to move throughout the space, dancers collide within territories marked by tape. These collisions may result in the starvation of fellow dancers and the game level ends when one dancer survives.
Each dancer begins level 2 with an individual goal and trajectory through the space. As dancers begin to meet fellow dancers along their trajectories, unions begin to form. As these bonds strengthen, dancers begin navigating their trajectories as partners and eventual as a group. To win the level, a community of 5 dancers must be formed.
The dancers begin this last level building upon the cohesion developed during level two, but with the challenge of not being permitted to travel outside of their level 1 territories. The group explores dynamics of leadership until a clear director temporarily emerges, resulting in the degradation back into the power struggles of Level 1.
"[radical] signs of life" was produced, in part, at Harvestworks with funds from the Rockefeller Foundation’s New York City Cultural Innovation Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts. The work was made possible through generous support from the Rensselaer Arts Department along with iEAR Studios, and EMPAC staff. Rehearsal space was granted by an Artistic Residency at the Contemporary Dance and Fitness Center in Montpelier, Vermont.