Just tables and dancers? No: stunning website visualizes choreographic structures

Still from 3D Alignment Forms animation

Dance is something one should experience live, in a theatre. I agree. But last night I spent hours on the Internet watching a 15-minute choreography, over and over again. I urge anyone even remotely interested in (contemporary) dance to check out the stunning Synchronous Objects-site, a collaboration between designers, scientists and dancers. It’s a truly amazing attempt to visualize the organizational structures that make up William Forsythe’s choreography One flat thing, reproduced.

It took researchers from the American Ohio State University three years to come up with this site, launched on April 1. Creating Synchronous Objects involved researchers from dance, design, computer graphics, geography, statistics and architecture.

One flat thing, reproduced is a 15 minute-choreography for 17 dancers and 20 big tables, by American choreographer William Forsythe. It premiered in 2000. The dancers move in between those tables, jump on them, in a dazzling choreography. An improvisation-fest? No, through Synchronous Objects you learn that the choreography uses 25 ‘themes’. The site identifies them and offers close-ups. It also shows the more than 200 cues the dancers give each other: movements that trigger other movements. All the interlocking patterns and structures are revealed.

Cueing System

The site offers 20 different ways of looking at One flat thing, reproduced, and it makes sure nobody gets lost or will feel stupid. There are explanatory video’s, you can read or listen to comments and key terms are explained. There’s even a blog linked to the site.

And for Forsythe-fans who might not be intrigued by this visual wonderland: you can also just watch the video of the performance. All the others will undoubtedly leave this site with a sense of awe for Forsythe’s genius and the uncanny skills of his dancers. And will applaud the scientists who came up with this idea. You’ll find Synchronous Objects here.

Geographic Applications

(photo credit: ‘Synchronous Objects Project’, The Ohio State University and The Forsythe Company)

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