Thursday, March 31, 2011

"5 Soliders" - an interactive dance experience

“5 Soldiers – The Body is the Frontline”
Rosie Kay Dance Company
Interactive film -

I am not usually a fan of dance films nor filmed dance. I find that in both circumstances, the viewer is at the mercy of the video artist – they decide what angles are seen, which dancers are featured, and at what distance the work is recorded. But, collaborators Aquila TV, Meshed Media and the Rosie Kay Dance Company have figured out how to conquer these obstacles. Their recently launched interactive version of Kay's “5 Soldiers – The Body is the Frontline” (at brings with it two significant contributions; not only does it speak to a unique relationship between dance and technology, but the piece itself is an absolutely brilliant choreographic work.

“5 Soldiers” is a three-part study of the soldier existence. The first segment examined training, with marching formations and unison choreography. As the five dancers breathed together, their synchronicity and oneness was evident, illustrating a very fundamental connection. Next came camaraderie, as the four men rocked out to house music in true fraternity, nightclub fashion. This comment on togetherness and brotherhood was powerful albeit brief, as the scene quickly morphed into a land of aggressiveness, objectification and sexualization. Celebratory dancing turned to angry punches, powerful shoves and headlocks. Then, as the lone female of the cast began a cycle of extensions (full pencheé arabesques, grand battements, lay-outs and splits in second), the men froze and creepily stared at her. Eventually, they appropriated her movements and this middle section ended with a confrontational standoff between her and the four men. “5 Soldiers'” final topic was that of battle, complete with a helicopter movement motif and an ending moment of mortality.

The numerous viewing options allow for ultimate audience customization. You can watch the entire piece shot from four different angles, you can track one particular dancer, or you can follow the performers' point of view via their 'head cam'. This system truly transforms the viewer into an active participant with the different perspectives delivering unexpected insights. The 'head cam' gave an extra dimension of physicality with its shakiness – an authentic experience of what was actually happening in the dancer's body as they moved through the choreography. The single-dancer tracking was equally revealing. As I watched the woman's solo in isolation, I realized that the movements themselves did not appear sexual at all, instead, it was her environment that had provided this earlier observed tension. Her variation was simply an exploration of the body's limits through extensions.

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