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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

Binary Ballistic Ballet
Michael Saup

In Michael Saups "Binary Ballistic Ballet" participants send audio-signals through a microphone to a computer which transforms them into abstract shapes. A dancer then translates this information displayed on a computer monitor into a dance pattern on the stage.

The interactive choreography system "Binary Ballistic Ballet" was developed for the ballet piece "Eidos Telos" by William Forsythe, which was premiered in January 1995 in Frankfurt. The ensemble had already been experimenting with an alphabetical dance- system which was then transformed into movement in 3dimensional space-time. For this production this alphabet needed to be ported onto a computer platform to make it more fluid.

In part 1 and part 3, the computer picks words from the word-database and displays them on several monitors that are only visible to the dancers. As a new word appears, it will be directly influenced by the incoming soundtrack, i. e. the musician on stage can change the appearance of the current word in the following ways:

  • depending on frequency and amplitude of the incoming audio-signal, the words can be rotated and translated;

  • depending on amplitude, the words can be transformed into more abstract shapes, i. e. the words are interpolated into more DNA-like forms;

  • a spectral plot of the audio signal is created;

  • lines are used to visualise the history of the system.

The dancers can therefore decide which information they will choose:
  • the alphabetical index of the word (red color);

  • the color of the word, which is based on musical history;

  • the direct meaning of the word and its transformation into dance patterns;

  • the movement of the word in computer spacetime;

  • the line-history on the display;

  • the deformation of the word in space;

  • the spectral information of the sound.

The choreography is generally as much as 70 percent predetermined. The remaining 30 percent will be influenced by the computer system, which means that the dancers receive the information from one of the computer monitors and immediately transform it into dance patterns.The setup of the system reacts like a feedback loop between musician, dancer and computer.

In part 2 the computer is used to build "interactive creatures" that also react to incoming sound, for instance the monologue of a performer. Here we also have a "silent virtual dancer" that constantly interpolates between complex geometric shapes and accompanies the dancers on stage reacting to the soundtrack. The resulting graphics are displayed as a part of the stageshow.