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Virtual Reality at the 45th Annual Dance on Camera Festival

Written by Cory Healy on February 10, 2017 in New York City, Technology

Earlier this week, the 45th Annual Dance on Camera Festival wrapped up in New York City—and virtual reality was included for the first time.

In Aether, elements representing fire, earth, water and wind come together in sync with the dancer's movements. During the live performance portion, a DJ and percussionist will work alongside with the dancer while a coder creates live elements with particles. Each performance is always improvised.

Dance on Camera is the longest-running dance film festival in the world. Every year it celebrates dance through short films and a wide variety of recorded performances. For Paul Galando, Host of Dance on Camera & Founding Director of NYU Tisch Dance & New Media, the festival brings choreographers and filmmakers together, styles ranging from classical, modern and avant-garde performances.

"People in VR love to work with choreographers and dancers because we think about using the space and entertaining our audience through using the space," says Galando in an interview with the Wall Street Journal (video below).

Aether is only the beginning of what virtual reality and choreography can produce. There's a lot of exciting potential between the two fields, and this won't be the only time we see it in an interactive performance. On where VR is going, Galando elaborates further:

"We started with 360 degree video and that's a really excellent experience... it's intuitive, kids love working with interactive arts, and so I think right now we're at a phase of dialogue and conversation. Everyone is trying to figure out 'where is VR going?' Immersive theater and dance are something we have a lot of attention on."

To get a full understanding of how Aether works—and for a FOMO injection—read the full 'About Aether' section from DanceFilms.org kickoff party below:

Aether is a live Motion Capture Dance Performance with live demonstration happening at Dance on Camera Festival as part of the Emerging Movement Summit. Aether is designed and choreographed from the ancestral use of sacred geometry and the embodied elements: water, fire, earth and wind. The dancers’ movements are tracked and translated to 3D avatars emitting different particle systems in real time, based on the visual properties and behavior of each element.

With Aether, the artists seek to create an immersive live experience through movement, interactive 3D graphics and music, crafting a cohesive narrative that juxtaposes ancestral knowledge with cutting edge technology. Aether VR takes the motion capture dance performance Aether into a more intimate experience for the user. Can someone get in touch with the universe’s basic building blocks while in the virtual space?

As an audience member wears the headset, they are slowly surrounded by dancing figures who are designed and choreographed based on the four classic elements, Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire within their corresponding platonic solids. Aether VR is a virtual experience of dance, music, and the elements that create all things non-virtual. Creative team: LaJuné McMillian, Sergio Mora-Diaz, Ruudy Liu, and Kat Sullivan Composer/Musician: Darren Solomon Dancers: Alison Lehuanani DeFranco, Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone, and Kat Sullivan

AETHER: A live motion capture dance performance at National Sawdust from Sergio Mora-Diaz on Vimeo.

Photo credit: Liberty Science Center.