Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Choreography Has Moved to Computer

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Choreography Has Moved to Computer

Article excerpt

EVER since he began using Life Forms, 3-D human animation software that lets him choreograph at the computer, modern dance legend Merce Cunningham has become known as some kind of computer guru. The way he tells it, he's just a guy who uses a computer at work.

According to Cunningham, using a computer to choreograph is similar to using a typewriter instead of a pen.

"I use Life Forms rather than having to write down in some long, labored fashion what I'm looking at in order to keep it in mind for the dancers," he says. "I simply use the computer that way." Life Forms allows Cunningham to experiment with movement on an animated figure called the Sequence Editor, which looks like a slimmed-down version of the Michelin Man. Using a mouse, he can manipulate 23 different segments of the figure's body into positions that, when strung together, become a movement. He can view the movement sequences at various speeds and from different angles - in front, from above, or even from below. "It's a visual way of looking at movement," says Cunningham. "That's one of the things that struck me when I first saw it - that one could use it as a tool. I use it as a way to look at movement from another point of view. I use it primarily to place movements on the figure and then put them in the memory, so I can keep them and have them and I don't have to write them down. "I have them in this visual form and can bring them back when I want to work on a piece with the dancers." It's no surprise that Cunningham, an innovator in dance for more than 50 years, was the first major choreographer to use Life Forms, which was developed in a joint venture between the dance and science departments of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. The designers have said his f eedback was integral in improving on early versions of the software. As Cunningham notes, the technology provides a logical extension for his experiments with dance. Early in his career he separated movement from music so that his dance was independent from the rhythms. He also was the first to realize the necessity of choreographing a dance specifically for film. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.