Diavolo Dance Theater
Los Angeles, CA
Diavolo Dance Theater is an internationally renowned, modern, high-energy acrobatic dance company based in Los Angeles. From 2011-2013 Beaudry Interactive collaborated with Diavolo and Jacques Heim, the company's founder and Artistic Director, on a new piece entitled Transit Space. Premiered in 2013, it was called Diavolo's "most thoughtful and expressive" show to date by the LA Times. Influenced by the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, Transit Space explores themes of loss and community using skateboard culture as a guide, with skate ramps and boards as catalysts for exploration and discovery. As Jacques eloquently states, "it is a piece about the space between the spaces we are in, emotionally and physically." We collaborated with Jacques, Steve Connell (writer, spoken word artist) and Paul James Prendergast (composer, sound designer) on bridging together text, sound, structure, and movement into a singular, organic piece that lives as much as it can in the moment.
To build these bridges, we embedded sensors on set pieces (e.g. quarter-pipes), on props (e.g. heavily sensored skateboard decks), and in costumes. The purpose was twofold: to give the performers an intimate connection to the text, sound, and music at key moments in the work, and to give an immediacy of response, intricately tying movement to space and structure.
All of this required custom sensors to not only sense the movement of the performers, but also withstand the "harsh" performance environment of a dance company of this nature. In the process we invented a completely waterproof, fabric-based bend and pressure sensor that we continue to use in costumes and our gesture glove. In addition to the sensors, our show control software library, Diva, was used as the backbone for the interactive show control system for Transit Space. Read the TechPageOne interview on the use of cutting-edge technology specifically in Transit Space, and the world of live performance in general. For more discussion on the show, check out this interview with Jacques Heim on PBS.