Saturday, 1 February 2014

Bounden Part II - How it Works

Just before Christmas I mentioned Bounden, a project by Game Oven, a Dutch games developer to create a dance game for smart phones. This project appealed not only to my love of ballet but also to my interest in technology (see "Bounden - Something that appeals to my Interests in Technology and Dance" 17 Dec 2013). As I noted in my previous article, Hans Meisner and the magnificent Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet, of which he is the artistic director, are participating in this project.

Game Oven and the Dutch National Ballet have just released another video showing how the game works. The idea is to get a ball into the cross hairs of the screen and in order to achieve that object the person holding the phone has to follow a prescribed path. That is to say he or she has to dance.

Although I believe that the idea is to create a work of art I believe that the app could be a tool in dance education.  For example, I tend to wobble like a jelly in arabesque and my pirouettes are terrible. That is because it is not easy for me to find the point of balance in my fat, old body.  Properly programmed I think it could help me find that point of balance and through repeated use train me in time to reach that point instinctively.  I am sure that ballet teachers could find plenty of other uses for the tool.

In one of recent classes in Huddersfield two young women were recording the movements of each student. I think they must have been learning Benesh notation and I am sure that my clumsiness gave them a lot to laugh about. However, it got me thinking about Bounden. If the movement of the ball on the screen follows a path that has been choreographed by Meisner it should surely be possible to reverse the process: that is say digitize the movements of a dancer's body and convert them into points of the stave. If I am right it could also be a tool for dancers, choreologists and choreographers.  In Scottish Ballet's programme for Cinderella Christopher Hampson wrote how he dreads the first day of the creation of a ballet. Well, maybe the technology behind Bounded could make his life easier.

I am something of a fan of the Junior Company and made a special trip to Amsterdam for their opening night (see "The Junior Company of the Dutch National Ballet - Stadsshouwburg Amsterdam 24 Nov 2013" 25 Nov 2013). Meisner has brought twelve of the world's most talented young dancers to the Netherlands where he has prepared them for what are likely to be glittering careers (see "The Dutch National Ballet Junior Company - more than just dePrince" 20 Nov 2013). This company is coming to London on the 28 and 29 May 2014 (see "If you see no other ballet this year this is the one you must see - Dutch National Ballet Junior Company, Linbury 28-29 May 2014 14 Jan 2014). If there are still tickets left do yourself a favour and buy one. I will be there on the 29 May 2014 clapping and cheering as I did in Amsterdam. Only the third time in my life that I have seen a standing ovation for a ballet.

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