Interview of Christine Bastin: Technology and movement transmission

Here is an interview of Christine Bastin, choreographer and artistic director of La Fabrique de la Danse (which developed DanceNote). Christine Bastin talks about movement transmission and the online tool DanceNote which was created to support transmission. Today, which would be the place for technology in movement transmission?

Photo: Cyril Magimel. “Fruition“, choreograph : Christine Bastin

Bonjour Christine Bastin,

To what extent do you think technology modify the way you transmit your choreography master pieces?

First, and because I got more used to face to face transmissions within the studio, I would say that DanceNote does not modify my way of working with dancers. But since I started using it, I realized that it saves a lot of time, and that little by little I consider transmission in a slightly different way. My transmission method does not change much, I just pay more attention to certain steps. Some of them can be taken in charge by DanceNote: for instance learn the general structure of a choreography. We often have very little time in studio and DanceNote allows to ‘optimize’ it. Or we could be away from dancers for a while and DanceNote could be a way of working… at the beginning. Of course everything cannot be taught with videos and that is a good thing! Our art is a living body art and direct exchange of the essence, of the vibration remains essential.

Any drawbacks? For instance people learning on video only who have a different version of your choreography? Including or excluding details that should not be?

In that case we must not let the dancer in front of DanceNote for a long time on his own, not to take bad habits. Only the time needed for the structure to be remembered without being anchored too deeply. Working in studio could then correct and improve the learning. Every dancer ‘reads’ a video in his/her own way. It depends on where you come from, what choreographic background you have, the video quality, the original dancer, whether one knows more or less my way of working… Video in its deep nature, is already different from original work. For instance a video does not always show the movement origin that has created such or such form. Sometimes, one might only remember final form not seeing where it comes from. DanceNote avoids it with synchronized point of views, drawing attention on different details. Annotations can also give more precise information.

How does it modify your time within the studio? Are you more focused on certain subjects? Going faster on others?

At work, I have not filmed yet, I begin to have the ‘DanceNote reflex’ to capture front, back and side videos and prepare additional notes. That will be a very good instrument for further transmissions. A tool as precise as possible to avoid misinterpretation, and corresponding to our constraints: lack of time, or when we have to work from the distance. It is also a very precious tool to transmit in schools in France or abroad. For transmission in the studio, to work beforehand on DanceNote allows me to focus on certain steps of the transmission process such as interpretation, origin and meaning of movements, refinement of choreography, inner feelings… I also like to know that DanceNote protects my work, and once the dancer does not need it anymore I can control his/her access to it, allowing me to manage who can access my work.

You experienced with us 3D technologies to help transmission? Can you tell us more about this experiment? What does it bring? More than video already recorded?

We had a motion capture session of a contact duo, an extract from my piece ‘Fruition’. And it was astonishing for one of my dancer to work with that little avatar re-creating the duo on this virtual space! I even discovered that dancer might need in a duo, to visualize their own partition without the contact of the other dancer. But, of course he did not forget that this very contact was part of the writing! It was a way to anchor memory and to get over this 2-dimension videos.

Let’s dream of a world where young students could have a virtual model of a master? Can you imagine people learning dance with AR or VR?

It seems to be crazy! It would be to gather in a single canal all the different videos and to add another dimension, to visualize in real time space and volume! It would make the dancer active in the learning with a synthetic information. 3D is almost ‘alive’. Only ‘almost’, and let’s hope it will remain so!  Because nothing will replace this ideal and magic experience of a dancer and a choreograph working within a studio.

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