It's dance but not as audiences know it - premier work combines motion capture and 3D

A ground-breaking collaboration between Deakin University, the Melbourne Ballet Company and leading 3D design company Autodesk* has changed the way audiences know and appreciate dance.

Choreotopography, which had its world premier at the Arts Centre Playhouse in Melbourne in December 2010, integrated motion capture and 3D into the three dances from the Melbourne Ballet Company’s repertoire - One Day, Dark Before Daylight and Infinite Space.

Choreotopography choreographer and director of the Deakin Motion.Lab, Dr Kim Vincs said the performance was a fantastic way to bring Deakin’s collaboration with the Melbourne Ballet Company and research into motion capture techniques and interactive performance to Melbourne audiences.

“We have all seen characters created using motion capture and 3D animation doing incredible things in movies, but this live performance takes that concept further,” she explained.

“Each dancer will be dressed in a motion capture suit and their movements will be motion captured by the Deakin Motion.Lab and used to create motion graphics using Autodesk software.  “Wearing 3D glasses the audience will see 3D graphical images projected around the dancers; expanding their presence on stage.

“The dancers will dance in an imaginary world whose images are inspired by an environmental design concept based on the Darwin waterfront tidal zones, through a collaboration with well-known author, artist and interdisciplinary scholar, Paul Carter and architectural designer Edmund Carter.

“In this interactive world and through dance and real-time 3D animation their characters will be brought into being. 

“The use of the motion capture technology means the audience’s experience is not constrained by the stage and their environment; our dancers will appear to dance in computer generated landscapes, and we can create whole computer generated corps de ballet that will dance in mid air.”

Melbourne Ballet Company Artistic Director, Ms Alisa Finney said the works performed at The Playhouse whilst experimental, manage to engage new and existing audiences in new ways of viewing interpretative choreography.

“Contemporary ballet is about breaking down barriers and the performance works will do that,” she said.

“Connecting with people is imperative and we know people leave our performances touched by they emotional journey they have just undertaken.

"For Melbourne Ballet Company, the collaboration, the methodology, and the resulting immersive experience for audiences is an evolution in performance production."

"As an independent performing arts company, collaborations such as that with Deakin provide further opportunities for dancers, choreographers and creative artists with whom we regularly work, and support towards the growth of the industry.

"This is the first opportunity that Melbourne Ballet Company has committed to a performance season at The Arts Centre, and our own works will be shown in the fullness alongside the collaborative work with Deakin University's Motion.Lab.

"We are pleased to have this association, and look to working with other professional artists in the future."

Paul Hellyer, Media and Entertainment Business Manager at Autodesk said Autodesk is a leader in digital entertainment creation and is the technology behind many of the latest 3D blockbusters, including Avatar and the recently released Australian made Legends of the Guardian. 

“We are excited that our technology is being used to bring a new dimension to live dance performances for the first time in Australia,” he said.


* Additional information

Deakin Motion.lab

The Deakin Motion.Lab is a centre for creative research into technology and performance, as well as movement analysis of physically demanding professions such as dance and sport.  The centre also teaches motion capture within Deakin’s animation program, and provides commercial motion capture services to industry. This project is a collaboration with Deakin University’s Strategic Research Centre – the Centre for Memory Invention and Imagination, which uses creative arts to research social and environmental issues. 

The people behind Choreotopography:

  • Choreographer Kim Vincs
  • Interactive artwork by John McCormick
  • Original score by Rob Vincs
  • Experimental film by Dirk de Bruyn
  • 3D Animation by Daniel Skovli and Peter Divers
  • Environmental Design concepts by Paul Carter, Creative Director, Material Thinking
  • Architectural Design concepts by Edmund Carter, Creative Director, Dyskors
Melbourne Ballet Company

In One Day – A classically-presented celebration of Melbourne’s four seasons
Dark Before Daylight – The engaging propositional sequel to a classical ballet
Infinite Space – Melbourne Ballet Company’s signature contemporary classic.

Alisa Finney, Artistic Director
Simon Hoy, Resident Choreographer

In One Day – A classically-presented celebration of Melbourne’s four seasons
Choreography by Simon Hoy
Music by A. Vivaldi

Dark Before Daylight – The engaging propositional sequel to a classical ballet
Choreography by Simon Hoy
Music by Edward Elgar

Infinite Space – Melbourne Ballet Company’s signature contemporary classic.
Choreography by Simon Hoy
Music by W.A. Mozart


Autodesk, Inc. is a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Customers across the manufacturing, architecture, building, construction, and media and entertainment industries - including the last 15 Academy Award winners for Best Visual Effects - use Autodesk software to design, visualize and simulate their ideas. Since its introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982, Autodesk continues to develop the broadest portfolio of state-of-the-art software for global markets.


Media comment – Dr Vincs,  Ms Finney and Mr Hellyer are available for interview.
Please contact Sandra Kingston 0422 005 485, Deakin University,
Gary Chan, 0417 161 368 for Melbourne Ballet Company and
Shiva Kumar, Autodesk, Phone: +61 2 9291 3387, Mobile: +61 413 081 070.

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