Digitizing Dance

This short comical clip got me to think if anyone out there has considered digitizing dance? This is can be more than a new type of ethnographic research. One could not only digitize dance as a sort of cultural preservation but one could begin to do really interesting statistics and comparisons of cross cultural dances since data is plotted in physical space. Hell, it could even become a form of phylogenetic analysis, who knows?

7 thoughts on “Digitizing Dance

  1. That’s actually a brilliant idea! As far as I’m aware dance is something that isn’t really researched much in anthropology, but I haven’t taken any ethnomusicology courses, which is perhaps where it is talked about. If I make it to grad school this might just be something that I seriously consider looking into further. Thanks for sharing.

  2. A methodology for “digitizing” dance already exists. It’s called “Choreometrics,” and is an outgrowth from the “Cantometrics” system for systematically encoding vocal music, developed by Alan Lomax and myself early in the 60’s. Lomax created Choreometrics in collaboration with Irmgard Bartenieff and Forrestine Pauley later in the same decade. Both the Cantometric and Choreometric coding systems are defined and discussed in Lomax et al., “Folk Song Style and Culture,” which can still be purchased, in paperback form, at Amazon.com. Lomax directed several very interesting films illustrating his method and the various ways it can be applied to the comparative study of dance as an expression of culture and history. The Cantometric database has recently been revived (for more info, see my blog at http://music000001.blogspot.com/) and the Choreometric database will hopefully follow soon. A DVD containing most of Lomax’s films on Choreometrics is due for release very soon. For more info on this, see http://www.culturalequity.org.

    By the way, the video you’ve presenting above is distasteful and offensive.

  3. Victor, thanks for the input. As far as the distasteful and offensive nature of the video, does it change if you consider people from the ethnicity that’s represented made the video? The man dancing in the background to which the computer cartoon model traces movements, is an Indian man named Arjun doing Bhangra, his friends traced this dance with motion technology.

  4. Sorry Kambiz, I didn’t mean to offend YOU. It’s just that the use of a highly sophisticated, subtle and beautiful dance tradition as a device to show off a completely ordinary, unoriginal and banal digital animation technology, featuring a cartoon character that demeans that tradition, really bothers me.

    I understand your point, however, because you were looking beyond the imagery itself to the possibilities it represents for the digital representation and comparison of different dance styles, and that potential IS very interesting and meaningful for sure. In principal this technology could be used as the basis for the digital analysis of many different types of dance and I agree, that would be a very cool thing to do.

  5. Well Victor, I’m sorry it doesn’t appease to your level of intelligence. I’ve always welcomed your insightful comments to this site but I really don’t understand what is so distasteful and offensive to your intellect with this video.

    If you find a non-offensive video that documents the same thing, i.e. an ethnic dance being captured with motion technology, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to swap out the video.


  6. It seems that the video is not online anymore and it is a pitty since i was interested to see it…it would be good to widen the discussion beyond just one opinion. Thank you.

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