VTL Works With Full Circle Dancers

Mirror News Staff/January 12, 2011/Online

     HFCC’s Virtual Theatricality Lab (VTL) uses film technology in live performance events. One of these technologies is motion capture. The term “motion capture” can used in a very broad sense to encompass any system that can track, capture and respond to the motion of people and objects. From a dancing perspective, motion capture is especially intriguing when 3D coordinates of a body in motion are converted into animated dance sequences. The VTL has been using motion capture dance in its productions and has been creating dance animations since 2006. In the 2006 VTL production of The Skriker, motion capture dances were used in conjunction with 3D stereoscopic projection to create the terrifying creatures of the underworld.

The dances in The Skriker were created using a wired or tethered system. This limited performer movement. The success of The Skriker enabled the VTL to purchase a wireless tracking system utilizing the same equipment used in Hollywood films such as The Polar Express, Beowulf and A Christmas Carol.

Perhaps the film the public is most familiar with that used motion capture to create dance is Happy Feet. The animation in Happy Feet relied heavily on motion capture technology, with dance scenes performed by human dancers. The tap dancing star for Mumble, in particular, is Savion Glover who was also co-choreographer for the dance sequences.

The VTL is also continuing to produce original dance animation using motion capture. The VTL’s most recent project is a venture with Henry Ford Community College’s Full Circle Dance Company. In collaboration with Dr. George Popovich, Director of Theater Arts and Director of the Virtual Theatricality Lab, and Alan Contino, Chief Engineer, the Full Circle Dance Company are excited to have the opportunity for a unique experience working with the Virtual Theatricality Lab.

The 15-foot tall motion capture animation was created by Alan Contino in the VTL. Choreographer and Adjunct Dance Faculty member Amy Guilmette is composing an innovative choreographic “duet” between student dancer Justin Alesna and his gargantuan humanoid “partner”. The duet is an appropriate opening movement to a longer piece entitled “In Reference to Somewhere Between,” a modern dance piece based on the interplay of the distinctive, yet unseen, energetic emotional space that exists between people engaging in relationships.

Premiered as a “work in progress” at the 2010 Oakland Dance Festival at Harrison High School in Farmington, Michigan, the student cast—including D’Andre Reid, Ira Todman, Latoria Harrison, Teresa Alvarez, and high school dual enrollment student India Bellamy—dedicated many weekend hours in the fall semester to contribute to this collaborative choreographic process. The original work will be performed a second time at the American College Dance Festival in Akron, Ohio March 17, 2011, with the final project premiering April 29 and 30, 2011

Miss Guilmette also teaches dance technique classes, choreography, and is assisting Full Circle Dance Company Artistic Director, Diane Mancinelli for the winter 2011 semester.

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