Dance, Costume, Climate and Contamination: Expressive Entangled Relations in Immersive Dance Theatre.
In DAP-Lab’s1 kimospheres (kinetic-atmospheres) series (2015-present), stemming from the METABODY: Media Embodiment Project (EU Culture Programme [2013-present]), costume resides centre stage in the shaping of new ideas for extended choreographies in real-time interactive dance performances and installations. In its multifarious forms – analogue and digital, worn and portable, constructed and deconstructed, abstract and narrative – costume’s role and theatrical character throughout the series have always been intertwined with the emergence of movement, improvised dance expression, electronic sound, film and shifting scenographic spaces. This presentation specifically addresses the dynamic, manifold and connected aspects of two particular prototypes in DAP-Lab’s current work Mourning for a Dead Moon (kimosphere no.7), a dance-theatre work which explores the layers of perceptions in an audiovisual world that is under pressure (premiered in London in December 2019). The first is the ‘CryptogamicLight Cape’, constructed from off-cuts of black soundproof cloth and lined with lights (see figure 1); the second is the ‘PlasticDress’, a long train of upcycled waste plastic from food packaging. Themes of contamination (plastics pollution), congealed relations, imbalances in nature and symbiotic existences of life forms are core to the work. The mutually extending encounter between costume and performer in this interdisciplinary and multi-media collaboration will be conceptually explained and highlighted through the use of images, video, personal reflections and dancer feedback. This paper argues that costume does not purely clothe a ‘character’, or create an additional visual surface interlinked to other projected and material scenographic elements; rather, costume co-exists as character via synergistic relations with the performer in space. Furthermore, movement evolves through these intertwinings and kinaesthetic and material interaction as expressive entanglements in the kinetic-atmospheres.
1 The Design and Performance Lab, founded in 2004 by choreographer and filmmaker Johannes Birringer and fashion designer Michèle Danjoux, is a cross-media laboratory exploring convergences between performance, textile/fashion design and movement, telematics, clothing and choreography, visual expression, film/photography, audio art and interaction design: http://people.brunel.ac.uk/dap/arch.html.
Michèle Danjoux is a practicing artist and researcher with a background in fashion design, and an accomplished educator with over twenty years of experience in higher education. Her academic posts have included Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University (1993-2009), where she also mentored early career researchers, and Principal Lecturer and Masters Programme Leader at De Montfort University (2009-2013). She is currently Research Lead for the School of Media & Communication at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London; the LCF Research Hubs and UAL Performing Dress Lab, an International Research Laboratory established with partners at Aalto University, Finland and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Australia. Her research interests intersect design and performance, and centre on the interactive potentials of costumes and wearables in real-time immersive contexts. In 2004, Danjoux co-founded DAP-Lab, a design and performance laboratory (2004 – present), which she continues to co-direct, to pursue these interests. Her contributions to knowledge in her transdisciplinary field, linking fashion/costume design with performance, dance, sound arts, digital/networked media, and interaction design have been both distinctive and pioneering – generating a more critical approach to the role of costume in performance. She has presented papers at international conferences, been published in peer-reviewed journals and publicly exhibited her design prototypes. Her costumes have also been performed at two major London dance theatres – the Lilian Baylis Studio, Sadler’s Wells (2010 and 2014) and Laban (2007).
Artistic Impression by Michele Danjoux. Zhi Xu by Johannes Birringer