Technology Adds a Cutting Edge to Modern Dance

By Ann McArthur, Sun Staff Originally published in The Sun , February 3, 2005

In an era when technology invades every aspect of our lives, it should come as no surprise that it has entered the realm of dance in Baltimore.

Theatergoers can witness this collision of dance and technology in *blink*, a multimedia performance presented by the company movement/addiction at the Creative Alliance at the Patterson. The show contains two dance works - skip/stop and body.txt - that feature interactive sound and video combined with modern-dance choreography.

"Audience members can expect to see dizzying circular movements, expansive jumps and dynamic partnering with chairs," says Renee Brozic, artistic director and one of the company's co-founders.

Fellows from the Imaging Research Center <http://www.irc.umbc.edu/> at University of Maryland, Baltimore County -- which teaches its students digital media techniques -- provide the multimedia aspect of the performance. Since the center's inception in 1987, it has collaborated on many artistic endeavors in Baltimore.

Timothy Nohe, an associate professor at UMBC who teaches the fellows at the Imaging Research Center, said the collaboration with movement/addiction was a way to allow his students to have a relationship beyond their computers.

"Computers can be closed," he said. "Now the students can experience an open relationship with the audiences."

In *blink*, the fellows use the click of a mouse to create unique sounds and visuals throughout the dance performance.

"We were able to bridge the ideas of the students with the dancers' movements," said Nohe.

The sounds of nontraditional instruments such as water, jugs, wine glasses and bowls are manipulated by computer to create the music for the performances in real time. In skip/stop, which is about feeling alone on a packed New York subway, a recording of subway sounds is enhanced by moving folding chairs on the set that are rigged with microphones. In body.txt, the fellows record the dancers' movements, then project the images onto a latex screen on stage.

Because of a time delay, the effect gives the performers the capability to duet with themselves. In addition, stage lights are shone through the screen, which makes the dancers, wearing flesh-colored costumes, appear to glow.

The dance company movement/addiction formally got its start in 2002, but the idea was born 10 years ago during talks between friends in the dance department at UMBC. Sarah D. Seely and Brozic had a vision of bringing an original form of modern dance to Baltimore. The pair set out to get people excited about dance theater and decided the best way to do so was to offer theatergoers experimental forms of dance.

"We believe that the body articulates in ways we can't speak," Brozic said. "And we wanted to use our daring choreography to show people something they don't see every day in Baltimore."

Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun

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