Find out how Beneath Still Waters combines dance and science into one open-ended interactive experience.
From Professor Matthew Wyon, choreographer Ruth Brill and filmmaker Craig Bush and comes Beneath Still Waters, an insightful and interactive exploration of art and science that examines the physical and mental demands of differing dance styles. The project explores the physiological, psychological and biomechanical demands of Ballet, Breakdance, Kathak, Commercial Jazz as well as the characteristics that make these styles both distinct and similar to one another.
Through interviews with both creatives and scientists, the viewer can explore the choreographic process of bringing dance to life and gain a deeper understanding of dance science - a field of research that investigates the pressures placed on dancers and adaptions dancers make to cope with them.
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Through the mastery of their bodies, dancers can seamlessly shift from one state to another - graceful, poised and delicate in one moment, dynamic, powerful and strong the next. We rarely consider the challenge that this presents and the toll that this takes on performers both physically and mentally. Beneath Still Waters aims to enhance our appreciation of dancers as athletes and dance as an art form.
To this end, the project examines dance from two perspectives that can be viewed in any order. The dance science section explores the unseen forces and stresses that dancers go through. To gather the data required to do this, the production team employed telemetric gas analysis and XSENS 3D motion capture suits that are able to record real-time heart rate data, oxygen consumption, limb movement and joint impact forces. This data is then shown alongside interviews with researchers that contextualise the data captured for each of the dances.
The choreographic portion takes the audience through the challenges of designing a performance for the screen and how this requires the choreographer to think of the camera as another dancer. This section also highlights the careful thinking needed to showcase the unique and similar attributes of each dance.
Arranged in four areas - the full performance, the making of, the choreography and the dance science section - Beneath Still Waters behaves more like a micro-site than a linear film. There is no defined path through the project or a set order in which the different areas need to be viewed. The audience can explore as they like. In this way, Beneath Still Waters differs greatly from conventional filmmaking.
This non-linear structure is a feature of its flexible design. Content is grouped around a theme and then arranged in segments connected to a thematic hub. Using StoryFormer, content is daisy-chained together around these hubs and content links back and forth. After finishing one segment audiences are guided back to the hub to choose the next area they would like to visit. This is repeated until all of the content is viewed or the viewer decides to visit another area. This structure means that Beneath Still Waters cannot be viewed as a conventional film project as it does not have a set duration or runtime. Instead the time spent in the experience and the number of scenes visited is a better metric by which interactive explorations should be viewed.