Yaying Zhang


This visualization video creation of the Improv Scene from Judith Garay’s The Fine Line ~ twisted angels is an exploration to me on how to use the power of digital technology to give another layer of expressiveness to the dance performance itself.

When I created these videos using MAVi, our movement visualization tool created by Ewelina Bakala, I thought about, what’s the difference between to appreciate the dance on a stage, and to appreciate the dance on the screen, now that we have exactly the same movement of the dancers (thanks to the motion capture technology)?

I realized the first thing is that the system can give the movement another type of existence. By triangulation, the joints are connected by pieces of triangles. So the whole body looks like a very abstract shape, very vaguely presents the skeleton and the movement.

Also, the textures of this shape of body can be manipulated. In the visualization for Vanessa’s improv, I used different colours corresponding to the movement. In the real stage performance, there are stage projections created by Flick Harrison. For Antonio and Bevin’s improv, I applied these videos (from Flick Harrison) to the texture of the moving body. Then we can see a piece of fire dancing, or shaky, colourful lines dancing.

And the perspective of the audience can be changed and programmed too. In the digital world, the audience perspective is the camera perspective. By zooming and rotating the camera, we can view the performance from a changing perspective, as if the dancer is floating in the air. Slow camera movement can bring a sense of peace, fast/jumping camera movement can bring a sense of anxiety.

Another cool thing about MAVi is that it can create a tail effect for the movement, which means that the body of the current moment can be kept on the screen for a small while. This provides a chance for the bodies in a period of time to exist in the same time and space. So that a single shape accelerates through time and builds a (changing) volume. This is like adding another dimension to the dance. I applied this effect and got surprisingly beautiful visualizations.