Taylor x Technology: Exploring New Frontiers in Movement Analysis and Interactive Education

by Carolyn Adams, Director of Education

The Paul Taylor Dance Company is at the forefront of embracing technology as an integral aspect of its expansion. In a recent collaborative experiment with graduate students from Carnegie Mellon University, the company delved into the realm of computerized movement tracking. The aim was to develop a tool that could track Paul Taylor’s movement phrases, starting with the challenging “Back Exercise.” This four-month project served as a stepping stone towards the long-term goals of comparing different videos of dances from over time, identifying consistent movement characteristics, and creating interactive teaching videos for non-dancers and general audiences.

Tracking Dance Movements: The primary objective of the project was to explore the capabilities of a computer program in tracking Paul Taylor’s complex movement phrases. The “Back Exercise,” known for its intricacy and technical demands, served as an ideal starting point. By using cutting-edge technology, the students from Carnegie Mellon aimed to develop a program that could accurately capture the nuances and subtleties of this choreography, so that variations could be flagged.

Comparing Multiple Dance Versions: One of the long-term goals of this collaboration is to develop a program that enables the Paul Taylor Dance Company to compare various iterations of the same piece. As movement characteristics naturally evolve and change over time due to cast changes and other factors, it becomes essential to identify and analyze the movement characteristics that remain relatively constant. By employing technology to track and analyze these variations, the company can gain a deeper understanding of their artistic choices and performance evolution. This innovative approach will provide valuable insights into the company’s performances and contribute to the preservation of its artistic legacy.

Interactive Teaching Videos for Non-Dancers: Beyond the realm of professional dancers, we hope that by utilizing movement capture technology, we might be able to create interactive teaching videos that serve both educational and entertainment purposes. These videos will provide an immersive experience, allowing individuals to engage with the choreography and gain a deeper understanding of the movements, expressions, and emotions conveyed through dance. Such innovative initiatives will open up new avenues for audience engagement, fostering a greater appreciation for the art form.

As part of this experimental journey, we look forward to sharing a fun test version of their technological advancements with Taylor fans. Stay tuned and be sure to stretch!

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