Cyberloops

By MARCIA B. SIEGEL  |  April 29, 2009

Neither of the two dancers on the program used Loops directly, but both noted the way digital repeatability can alter material. In Looping, Marjorie Morgan fed her own vocalizations into a microphone, to be sampled by Jed Speare and played back as a chorus of sound. Morgan was dancing and telling a story about seashore memories, against Speare's video of the tide coming in over a rocky shore, raindrops, a windshield wiper — cycles that recycled through the dance.

Jonah Bokaer danced with Merce Cunningham from 2000 to 2007. In False Start, which was excerpted from a larger piece, Three Cases of Amnesia, he used a mysterious animated figure that might have been scripted off his own dancing body. On screen, the figure could duplicate itself into chorus lines and trace forms, but it could also rotate its limbs 360 degrees, make a move that crossed through the body, jump in slow motion.

This was more than motion capture. The figure on the screen reminded me of the computer-generated characters in the program LifeForms, which Cunningham has used to create movement. The programmed dancer can do almost anything; live dancers have to figure out how to approximate its superhuman movements.

Alternating with the animated video, Bokaer's live sequences looked like a regular but slightly odd dance. First he stood in one place and moved only his left side. Later he twisted and lurched, stood on one hand with his feet propped on a wall. I realized he was trying to copy the computer figure, but his dance looked like a new invention.

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