Dance Technology: Introduction and Basic References


What is dance technology ? Why is it important ?

Here the word “dance” is most often associated with visual accompaniment to music through human motion in an artistic setting. It also can be used to describe process-oriented social interaction, as well motion-controlled gaming and ancillary gestures in musical performance.

Sensor technology and human-computer interaction (HCI) expand the meaning and application of dance in all of the above contexts.

Reading Suggestion

The field of dance technology is vast and has received much attention from academic in the past 15 years, especially in regards to interactive dance.

Though literature on dance itself date back hundred of years, how to specifically integrate technology is a more recent problem. As a result, there is much contraction among academics on terminology, taxonomy and applications.

What follows is a list of recent articles selected for their popularity and comprehensiveness. Though it serves as a good introduction to the field, it should by no means be treated as cannon.

To start with:

  • The 1998 article The Challenges of Interactive Dance: An Overview and Case Study by Siegel and Jacobson serves as a comprehensive and popular overview of interactive dance. The article discusses the challenges involved in developing an interface for detecting a dancer's movements, mapping these movements to musical parameters, defining the roles of the artists involved, and creating a software composition for interactive dance. Full text available on JSTOR (subscription required).
  • Dance and Interactivity: A more recent (2003) article by a titan of the field, Johannes Birringer. A choreographer and composer, Birringer has written dozens of articles related to technology and dance. Dance and Interactivity approaches many of the same problems as Siegel (1998), but updates technology and places special emphasis on notation and implementation. Full text:
  • More specifically for the problem of capturing dancer gestures: Ungvary, T. 1992. Waters, S., and Rajka, P. “Nuntius – A Computer System for the Interactive Composition and Analysis of Music and Dance.” Leonardo, 25(1) 59-68. Full text available on JSTOR (subscription required).
  • Maxwell, D. and C. Ginsberg. 1986.“Graphical marionette.” in Motion:Representation and Perception, Proceedings ACM SIGGRAPH/SIGART Interdisciplinary Workshop on Motion, pp. 303-310. An oft-cited, foundational work on the topic. Unfortunately only available in print.

Basic References: General Articles

Nine more excellent general articles (alphabetical by author):

  • Birringer, J. 1999. “Contemporary Performance/Technology.” Theatre Journal 61(4): 361-81.
  • Birringer, J., (ed). 2002. “Dance and Media Technologies.” special issue prepared and edited for Performing Arts Journal70, introduction, pp. 84-93.
  • Brightman, P. 1990. “Computer Dancemakers.” Leonardo. 23(4):393-396.
  • Hodges, M. 1995. “Computers and dance.” Technology Review, 98(1):20-21
  • Kahlich, L. 1992. “Dance Technology – Moving into the Future.” Dance Research Journal. 24(2): 63-64.
  • Politis, G 1990. “Computers and dance: A bibliography”. Leonardo. 23(1):87-90.
  • Siegel, W. 2009. ”Dancing the Music: Interactive Dance and Music” In The Oxford Handbook of Computer Music. Roger Dean (ed.). New York: Oxford University Press,pp. 191-213.
  • Wechsler, R. 1997. “Computers and Art: a Dancer's Perspective”, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine.
  • Wechsler, R. and H.Zwiauer. 1998. “Computers and Dance: Back to the Future?” Dance Research Journal.

Complementary Resources

Further reading into sensors, telecommunications, aesthetics, etc. as they relate to dance technology:

  • Fadon, C. 1991. “Still Life/Alive.” in Connectivity: Art and Interactive Telecommunications. Roy Ascott and Carl Eugene Loeffler, eds., Leonardo. 24(2).
  • Forest, F. “Communication Esthetics, Interactive Participation and Artistic Systems of Communication and Expression.” in Designing the Immaterial Society. Design Issues special issue, Marco Diani, (ed)., Vol. 4(1,2), University of Illinois, Chicago: pp. 97-115.
  • Gidney, E. 1983. “The Artist's Use of Telecommunications: A Review.” Leonardo. 16(4): 311-315.
  • Kac, E. 1991. “Ornitorrinco: Exploring Telepresence and Remote Sensing.” in Connectivity: Art and Interactive Telecommunications.
  • Popat, S., and J. Smith-Autard. 2002. “Dance-Making on the Internet: Can On-Line Choreographic Projects foster Creativity in the User Participant?” Leonardo, 35(1): 31-36.
  • Wechsler, R. 1997. “O Body Swayed to Music… (and vise versa)” (published in Leonardo Magazine).

Most articles listed on this page are available in full text through A few can be accessed online without subscription through University libraries will have access to all papers, they remain the best source for this type of information.