The College of Charleston Departments of Computer Science and Theatre and Dance worked together to create an unprecedented, interactive performance called “Out of Control.” The show will center around
the theme of a performance element – like costume, lighting or music – that’s out of the choreographer’s control. For Adjunct Professor of Theatre and Dance Erin Leigh, this element is the set.
For her piece, Leigh is working with Maggie Bailey ’14, a former dance major who has previously created dance videos for performances and arts festivals, and Garrett Bell, a sophomore theatre major specializing in set design. Bailey and Bell are collaborating with Assistant Professor of Computer Science William Bares to film a dance piece at the new Video Production Lab at the College’s Harbor Walk building (360 Concord St.). The film will ultimately be projected behind dancers during Leigh’s piece in the “Out of Control” performance.
“I asked William if we could partner to make a film using the green screen in the Video Production Lab and he was excited to collaborate,” Leigh said. “This is the first collaboration between the dance and computing in the arts programs and it’s been a big success.”
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The Video Production Lab at Harbor Walk is one of few facilities of its kind in South Carolina. “The Virtual Production Lab makes it possible to create movie effects that combine live action with computer-generated characters or backgrounds,” Bares said. “This new lab enhances the College’s unique Computing in the Arts program by offering new opportunities for developing software that enables novel forms of artistic expression. It also supports teaching and practice of virtual set technology, performance capture, and virtual cinematography, which are finding increased application in movies, broadcast television, and video games.”
“I’ve been a fan of Maggie’s work since she was a student, so I have complete faith in her ability to create a stunning video that will enhance the live performance and add a level of dimension that the audience hasn’t experienced before,” Leigh said.
Other pieces within the performance also promise a novel experience for viewers, who will even get to vote on what type of music accompanies one dance directed by Kristen Alexander, an adjunct professor of theatre and dance. Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Gretchen McLaine, who directed the performance, explained, “Having an element such as costumes, lighting or music drive the choreography is an exercise in trusting someone else, but even more in trusting your own creative responses to these limitations.”
In addition to the first collaboration between dance and computing in the arts, 2014 also kicks off the Department of Theatre and Dance’s goal of presenting a dance concert each semester – one to focus on student work and the other on faculty and guest-artist choreography each year.
“Out of Control” promises to deliver a unique experience for audiences in terms of both format and interactivity. The show will take place at 7:30 p.m. October 23-25 and at 3 p.m. October 26, 2014 at the Emmett Robinson Theatre in the Simons Center for the Arts (54 St. Philip St.). Tickets are $15 for the public and $10 for senior citizens and College of Charleston students, faculty and staff.