Like many of us, Kristin Wagner has been on a lot of “pandemic walks” over the past few years.
Wagner, who helped found seven-person dance collective The Click in 2021, came up with the idea for the band’s first project after scouring a QR code-based installation project along the Mystic River the same year. “Emotive Land” by The Click uses a new app to combine technology and dance for an interactive tour of the Charles River.
The final product will be available to the public from October 1 to November 30 in the Kendall Square canal area of Cambridge, and will kick off with a free one-hour live performance by The Click dancers.
For “Emotive Land”, Wagner enlisted his brother-in-law James Peerless, a software engineer, to help create the app that visitors can use to view “Emotive Land”. The app guides users to eight marked locations along the Charles River – a segment of the river’s floating wetlands, for one, and a corner of the boardwalk.
Once visitors reach a highlighted location, the app prompts them to hold their camera and then plays a movie featuring a dance specially designed to fit each location. The app uses augmented reality technology to overlay green screen dance footage on the actual location where viewers are.
Peerless explained that the app “allows a new way to experience those performances with much more flexibility.” “You don’t have to be there at any particular time, and you don’t have to pay for a ticket,” he said. “Anyone who has the app can go to this place and walk along the Charles River and watch these performances.”
Lonnie Stanton, chief curator and choreographer of the project, is eager to bring more people access to the dance that takes place outdoors and in nature. He’s the kind of person who will see a traditional show on stage and wonder “what if I see this amazing ballerina [dancing] on a bench?”
Due to the pandemic, “we’re getting used to seeing more dancing outside — for me, that’s exciting,” Stanton explained. Much of her choreography is “all about the tension,” she said: between nature and man-made industrialization, or between technology and embodiment. She staged duets back and forth in a weedy overcrowded industrial building or on a side of the promenade filled with discarded trash.
“Vines and things growing between fences in an urban setting are beautiful to me and show the forces and power of nature and how they will persist,” Stanton explained.
Wagner is sensitive to the tension between the deeply physical art form of dance and virtual technology.
“There’s so much that can’t be experienced and felt through a screen in my opinion, and just knowing the power of live performance, I hope that’s never taken away from us,” Wagner said. “I don’t want to lose this thing that I love,” she said of the dance, “but I think you’re just as likely to lose something if you don’t change too.”
Through this project, she works to find “harmony” between loving live performance and adapting to the digital age. The central question of “Emotive Land” seems to be, as she put it, “How do we prioritize both ‘live dance and technology,’ instead of one or the other?”
The click is live the outdoor performance will take place at 15 Broad Canal Way in Cambridge on October 1 at 1 p.m., with a rain date at 1 p.m. on October 2. The free “Emotive Land” application will be accessible via www.theclickboston.comand the Apple App and Google Play stores on October 1. .
Joy Ashford can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow them on Twitter @joy_ashford.
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