Joining hands with Arabesque Dance Company, HCMC Drama Theatre, and Open Stage, RMIT University Vietnam recently introduced an experimental dance project called Intimacies: Did you remember to lock the door, receiving high acclamation from audiences of various backgrounds on two nights of 21 and 22 December 2013.
RMIT Design lecturer Mr Paul Verity Smith is the director of the show and a major initiative of this research project. He has contacted Ngo Thanh Phuong, the choreographer/dancer of Arabesque Dance group to share his idea and formed a group to work on Intimacies from scratch. The project is in part funded by the RMIT Vietnam Internal Grant Research Scheme.
The final work is a production of more than one year of experiments and rehearsals at Open Stage Theatre, focusing on creating a fusion of live dance and interactive technology with the particular aim of enabling the dancers to control the live and pre-recorded videos.
The dancers wore accelerometers that measure their gestures and movements and light sensors that read the amount of light falling on their bodies, or in some cases, projected on their bodies by other performers to achieve desired results. Pads on the floor enable them to simultaneously make dance steps and control the images from projectors.
That the dancers get to control the image projections in the background means that no two performances are alike.
Still in its infancy, much of the technology used in the performance was outsourced from overseas, but there is also custom development made by the crew members.
The subject of the performance is intimacy and the imagery combines the external and internal worlds of two lovers who experience a deep love. With both the dancers performing and the projections initiated by them on the background, the audience can feel their utter isolation, fragility, and all of the deepest, most instinctive emotions.
The performance also showcased enormous talents of the Arabesque Dance Company's dancers as well as team spirit and efforts and training of highest calibre. Their dedicated participation helped produce a world-class work that is uniquely Vietnamese in its quality and approach.
"It was very good to attend the successful outcome to this project," said Dr Bob Baulch, Vietnam Research Coordinator of RMIT Vietnam.
"My congratulations to Paul Smith and the whole crew for bringing off a highly stimulating and thought provoking performance in an innovative new medium."
The two workshops attracted fully-seated crowds and captivated them from beginning until the end of the performances, followed by a post-show talk with a lot of praises and questions.
"The discussion following the performance demonstrated how engaged and interested the audience were in possibilities of combining sensors, videos and dance in combined live and mediated performances," shared Dr Bob Baulch.