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NCSA Aquifer Dance

Dancers performing

For "Dance: Re-Imagining the Proscenium," performers executed choreographed and spontaneous dance moves to music composed by New York-based composer James Lo as they roamed throughout the University of Illinois' Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The dancers were part of a November 2008 modern dance performance showcasing the area's reliance on the Mahomet Aquifer that flows deep beneath the ground. The performance's creator, Illinois dance professor Jennifer Monson, is interested in environmental issues.

This distinctive dance experience was executed with the assistance of numerous collaborators including some from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications' (NCSA) Advanced Visualization Lab. Jeffrey Carpenter, Robert Patterson and Stuart Levy created visualizations like the one pictured here behind the dancers (created by Carpenter). This particular visualization depicts a persistent ground of dark, shimmering sand perpetually in motion, evoking the opaque and porous substrates of the aquifer through which water moves and from which it is drawn. Slowly, an isomorphic image of the aquifer rises and turns to open, inviting viewers to move within the exposed mystery of its negative space. Then, gradually a graphic representation of the aquifer resolves until it is superimposed across the 3D outlines of the aquifer. The images linger only a short time until the reality of the aquifer -- dense, dark and subterranean -- is reasserted.

The visualizations were projected on the rear walls of stages and rooms and around corners, surrounding and immersing the dancers and the audience and expanding their experience into new dimensions.

The performance was part of the Institute for Advanced Computing Applications and Technologies computing and creativity research theme, which is exploring, among other things, the use of new technology for creating innovative performances. (Date of Image: November 2008)

Credit: Background visualization by Jeffrey Carpenter, NCSA/University of Illinois; photo by Robert Patterson, NCSA/University of Illinois
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