Dance Step City

Few things transport us as completely as when we give ourselves over to music and let our feet start dancing. However, for most of us non- dancers, we need a bit of prompting to get into the groove. In Dance Step City, we give passerby license to dance their way down the street, turning a few steps from an ordinary walk into a playful and magical journey. We will use a combination of overhead laser projectors, similar to the ones used in laser shows and directional audio to create a rhythmic journey down a section of pedestrian walkway. Inspired by classic scenes like Gene Kelly dancing through puddles in Singing in the Rain, Dance Step City will offer a set of dance steps tailored to the environment, that take participants on a playful romp. Participants will be able to simply follow along the steps like a multimedia hopscotch grid or add their individual flair to the steps, creating their own performative journey.

6 thoughts on “Dance Step City

  1. Great idea for inviting people to more physical activity, just there is some question that I’d like to know, how it can encourage social interaction between people? And how it can be run in crowded street?

    1. Those are both great questions and one’s we’ve been thinking a bit about.

      To encourage social interaction, we’ve thought about having two sets of dance steps, so you actually have a dancing partner. We want to prototype and playtest this to make sure that interaction works, but we’re excited by the you could “dance” with someone you know or possibly a stranger, connecting through the movement and synchronized steps.

      Very crowded streets could complicate the interaction. For our initial public playtest in DUMBO in Brooklyn, we tested it in a well-trafficked public plaza. When the sequence would start people would move out of the projection and watch it and the person performing, which was encouraging. Too fully account for this, we’ll need to be thoughtful about where we place the project and how much traffic the street has, as well as how you signal the beginning and end of a sequence.

  2. Doesn’t really look like dancing, does it? There is no freedom of movement or creativity on the part of the participant.

    1. Rose, you’re right the movement still looks pretty stilted. We’d love the chance to work with a choreographer to help us come up with steps. We looked at the step patterns from dance like the foxtrot and others, but we haven’t nailed it yet. But having played through it several times, I can say that when you’re doing it, feels a bit like dancing. You feel like you’re following a pattern, but trying to be expressive while you do it.

      That said, it will have a certain prescriptive feel, as it’s you’re trying to hit certain spots on a beat, not unlike a game like Rock Band or Dance Dance Revolution. As we proceed we’ll have to balance difficulty and fluidity with accessibility. Ideally, the steps will be a framework that a good dancer or someone one who has gone through the pattern once or twice can add to with creative flourishes of movement.

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