Google and Legendary Dancer Bill T. Jones Create Interactive Dance Experience for Anyone

Bill T. Jones and Google Creative Lab have collaborated to launch Body, Movement, Language, a collection of experiments that have resulted from a two-way residency between the writer, dancer director, and Tony Award winner.

Inspired by Jones’ long history of intertwining live, improvised speech and dance, these open-source experiments use AI to invite people to explore the creative possibilities of their bodies and make new connections with Jones’ iconic works right at home, using nothing more than a laptop and webcam.

When asked why Jones partnered with Google he said, “The idea of machine learning intrigues me. The theme of our company’s Live Ideas Fest this year is artificial intelligence. AI is supposed to take us into the next century and important things are supposed to be happening with this technology, so I wanted to see if we could use it to stir real human emotion. Maybe it’s ego, but I want to be the one to know how to use PoseNet to make somebody cry. How do you get the technology to be weighted with meaning and import?”

The series of four experiments include:

Manifesto

An intimate message composed in digital space

Bill T. Jones is famous for improvising with speech and movement in performance– deftly weaving together deeply personal stories, and commentaries on culture. Manifesto allows the user to create a trail of words that respond to their movements in real-time. If you exit your camera’s frame of vision, the trail of words will suspend on screen. With this process, you can compose a statement, a poem, or letter to someone you know. Jones has his dancers use this experiment to tell stories about their lives or write a letter to someone.

The Game

A kinetic conversation

This concept was discovered accidentally when Jones’ dancers began playing with a glitch in PoseNet that allowed them to “steal” the shape rendered on screen from one another by modulating their poses. Inspired by their experimentation, Jones asked them to think of three words with strong relationships to each other that would imbue this new game with meaning and weight. This game begins with his chosen triad: “lover, stranger, friend,” but you are encouraged to enter your own collection of words to give The Game more significance to you.

Hold That Thought

A soliloquy with digital props

Inspired by Jones’ work with language and movement, this experiment started as a visual pun on the significance of speech. As the words you say appear on screen, they become part of your body and are affected by your movements. While developing this experiment, Jones prompted his dancers to speak and feel the physicality of the words in the stories they tell. Hold That Thought invites you to speak freely while contending with your words as if they were physical objects that you can enlarge, shrink, or tilt with your movements.

Naming Things: Approaching 21

A new way to experience one of the most iconic pieces in the history of American dance

Debuting in 1983, 21 has become one of Bill T. Jones’ signature works. Jones cycles through 21 poses with spoken titles and improvised associations in a commentary on the body and its symbolism in culture. This dynamic performance is rooted in the time and space in which it is delivered. It is never executed the same way twice, making it impossible to archive. This experience, Naming Things: Approaching 21, is a complement to the live performance. This experience pays homage to the structure of 21 and allows you to experience each section uniquely. First, you watch him perform each pose. Second, you participate in the piece and must match his pose to advance the video and learn each poses’ title–a function powered by Google PoseNet. Last, you hear Jones’ reflections on the piece.



This project is an example of an innovative, socially responsible application of AI and even more specifically, the use of AI to explore and better understand the black and LGBTQ+ experience through art and dance.

 

The post Google and Legendary Dancer Bill T. Jones Create Interactive Dance Experience for Anyone appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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DanceLogic Teaches Girls Dance and Computer Coding

DanceLogic, a unique S.T.E.A.M. program that combines dance and computer coding leading to the development of original choreography and performance, is continuing onto its second year. Girls ranging from the ages of 13 through 18 years participate in the program held at West Park Cultural Center in Philadelphia and learn the value of focus, dedication, and teamwork, as well as industry standard coding language.

Shanel Edwards, co-instructor of danceLogic, stated that “danceLogic is helping these girls have access to the arts realm and science world as possible career paths, it is allowing them to stretch their own boundaries of what success looks like for them.”

computer coding

(Facebook)

During the dance class, led by instructors Edwards of D2D The Company and Annie Fortenberry, a performer with Ballet 180, the girls learn dance skills and movement techniques. This is followed by an hour of learning industry standard coding language under the direction of coding instructor Franklyn Athias, senior vice president of Network and Communications Engineering at Comcast. “I’m helping the kids see that someone, just like them, was able to use Science and Technology to find a very successful career,” Athias expressed in a press release.

The girls use coding to create their own choreography. “The combinations of dance and logic have good synergies. Learning something like dance requires practice, just like coding,” said Athias. “The dance is more physical, but it requires the students to try, fail, and try again. Before long, the muscle memory kicks in and the student forgets how hard it was before. Coding is really the same thing. Learning the syntax of coding is not a natural thing. Repetition is what makes you become good at it. After learning the first programming language, the students can learn other programming languages because it becomes much easier.”

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“My favorite thing about the program is that the students can explore leadership roles. By building their own choreography and supporting each other in coding class, they navigate creating and sharing those creations, as well as resolving conflict to make one cohesive dance. There’s a lot of beauty and bravery in that process,” stated Fortenberry.

The very first session of danceLogic culminated with the girls performing choreography and sharing what they learned through coding and how it has impacted their lives.

For more information, click here.

The post DanceLogic Teaches Girls Dance and Computer Coding appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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