Dancing with your iPhone

Bounden is a new iPhone app created by Dutch design shop Game Oven and developed by Ernst Meisner of the Dutch National Ballet. Basically, it’s a game meant to be played by two people simultaneously holding the iPhone. Players have to follow a path on a sphere that rotates according to how the iPhone is manipulated, resulting in a sort of dance duet. the app makes good use of the iPhone on-board gyroscope. Bounden is ‘just a game’, but it is interesting to see portable technology increasingly allowing us to engage with artistic practice that are not only music and drawing, which you can do sitting at your desk, but also performing arts that require us to move and to interact with other bodies. I have no trouble (kinda) seeing myself dancing alone in a studio, while Google Glass, Oculus Rift or whatever similar technology will be available in the future, shows other performers, or a sparring partner, or the shadow of my teacher on the glasses surface.

These days I am preparing for the tsure (companion) role in the Noh Yuya. I have performed a similar role in the past, albeit as a male character, and I am familiar with some of the chant and movement sequences, so instead of having a usual utai chant class to introduce the piece, my training started out as tachigeiko (standing lesson), where actors go through movements and chant on stage while holding the katazuke (score) in one hand in order to keep an eye on it. I have sometimes performed a kind of self-tachigeiko on my own holding a small tablet in one hand, where I playback videos I took in previous lessons. I literally dance as I watch the screen. (Warning: this is a rather ‘advanced’ technique that I do not recommend if you have not mastered the kata movements, as you are likely to misinterpret the video which was forcibly taken from a point of view which is not the one you have on stage.) With wearable technology developing so quickly, I can only wonder what kind of instruments we will use in our dance practice, say, in five years time. I am not entirely sure all the change it will bring will be for the good, but we will need to deal with that anyway.

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