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The Computer in Choreography Disclosure Number: IPCOM000131418D
Original Publication Date: 1978-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Document File: 14 page(s) / 49K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

John Lansdown: AUTHOR [+3]


System Simulation Ltd.

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This record contains textual material that is copyright ©; 1978 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact the IEEE Computer Society (714-821-8380) for copies of the complete work that was the source of this textual material and for all use beyond that as a record from the SPI Database.

The Computer in Choreography

John Lansdown System Simulation Ltd.

(Image Omitted: Computer-aided choreography illustrates some basic relationships between the computer artist and the computer procedures he employs to achieve certain artistic outcomes.)

Although readers of this journal will be aware that few areas of endeavor are untouched by the impact of the computer, it will surely come as a surprise to many that even ballet, perhaps the most human of all arts, is being influenced by computing techniques and concepts.

In dance the human body is the instrument the choreographer plays upon (with the active cooperation of the dancer) to create scenes of the figure in motion over time. There is in dance the creativeness of the choreographer in devising interesting, or exciting, movements; there is the creativeness of the dancer in achieving these movements that sometimes even overshadow the original creation.

My question to myself ten years ago was, is there a place for the computer in this intensely creative, intimately personal art? I was familiar with some of the attempts to utilize the computer to compose poetry or prose, to produce kinetic sculpture, or to create music. I tried to draw come mon principles from these efforts to apply to ballet.

My first experiments with computer-generated dance produced sequences that were pleasing to both dancers and viewers, but they provided for too little human participation, while running up computer time charges beyond my means. Later experiments, as you will see, struck what I felt to be a better balance between human and computer participation.


As far back as 1964, Jeanne Beaman and Paul Le Vasseur at the University of Pittsburgh used computers to generate simple sets of instructions to be performed by solo dancers.) In 1966, Michael Noll produced a computer-animated film showing primitive stick-figures moving about a stage to programmed choreographic instructions.2 More recently Brazilian choreographer Analivia Cordiero has used programs to generate dances and their television coverage.. A great deal of work, however, is aimed not at creating dances but at assisting choreographers and others in visualizing body movements.

During the late 1960's Israeli choreographer Noa Eshkol and others at the University of Illinois worked on computer- assisted movement notation and produced programs which allowed a choreographer to see a machine-plotted representation of the movement paths of limbs.5 At about the same time, Carol Withrow at the University of Utah devised...