03. SCHOLARLY & CREATIVE
TEDx SUNY Potsdam
"USING TECHNOLOGY ON STAGE
& IN THE REHEARSAL PROCESS"
APRIL 2019, PRESENTER
In the fall of 2017, I began creating a choreographic work about trees and the forest. I entitled it after a Japanese therapy called Shinrin-Yoku, a form of healing that involves simply wandering through the forest and being inspired by its beauty. I wanted the piece to take on a forest atmosphere, so I used suspended trees on stage. In collaboration with the production designers Todd Canedy and Don Borsh, we were able to produce the desired atmosphere, and I was very happy with the results. Yay!
A few months later, I was invited to Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School in Colorado to reconstruct the work, but it turned out that the rustic theatre, where it was to be performed, had no fly system, so there was no way to hang suspended trees. This was a roadblock. Now what?
Then, I remembered my dad saying, “take what you have and make the best of it.” So, I began taking photos and videos of trees. After about a thousands of shots, I came up with six trees that would potentially resemble the original look.
I took the images and dropped them into a digital editing program, and started creating. This process allowed me to experiment and discover deeper meaning to the piece. Eventually, the trees surpassed the original look, becoming surreal, creating a whole new dimension to the work.
Another obstacle was I needed to condense the original 27-minute work into a 10-minute excerpt. Well, there goes 2/3s of the piece. ten minutes was basically the beginning and ending. How was I going to build a trajectory without the middle? I had no choice but to make it happen.
I began analyzing the video of the original 28-minute work, and thought, what if I combined sections, making them happen at the same time. I started editing the video, cutting and overlaying footage, making the top layer more transparent than the bottom layer. This allowed me to see two groups as if they were dancing at the same time, which helped me incorporate the middle sections into the beginning and the end while staying within the 10-minute time-frame, which also helped me realize that I could reorganize and basically re-choreograph the work via video editing, so I didn’t have to waste the dancer’s time in rehearsals.
Building on the influence of creativity in my childhood, I explore how technology serves as a medium for dance and how my dad was my inspiration.
Technology has found its way into every field of knowledge and action. It serves profoundly as a medium for all art, and many would even argue that technology has recently advanced to becoming an art within itself. In the world of dance, technology has served choreographers since the 1970s, as video and motion capture were added to the stage.
Using technology through audio, visual, and the choreographic process is an important practice for me. It enhances the movement choices, atmosphere, and sensitivity of my work, and I believe this “is” the future of artistic creativity in dance.
The future of artistic creativity in dance does not just mean creating technology on stage. It also means using technology within the choreographic process. The future of creativity must not forget our past, where it began. Dance and technology are in my life because of my dad. His fascination with nature, technology, as well as being a creative inventor were all extremely profound in my development as an artist.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by SUNY Potsdam.
About TEDx Talks
TEDx is a grassroots initiative, created in the spirit of TED’s overall mission to research and discover “ideas worth spreading.” TEDx brings the spirit of TED to local communities around the globe through TEDx events. These events are organized by passionate individuals who seek to uncover new ideas and to share the latest research in their local areas that spark conversations in their communities. TEDx events include live speakers and recorded TED Talks, and are organized independently under a free license granted by TED. These events are not controlled by TED, but event organizers agree to abide by our format, and are offered guidelines for curation, speaker coaching, event organizing and more. They learn from us and from each other. More than 3000 events are now held annually. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx