Motion capture and the digital dance aesthetic: Using inertial sensor motion tracking for devising and producing contemporary dance performance

Strutt, Daniel. 2022. Motion capture and the digital dance aesthetic: Using inertial sensor motion tracking for devising and producing contemporary dance performance. In: Carla Fernandes; Vito Evola and Cláudia Ribeiro, eds. Dance Data, Cognition, and Multimodal Communication. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 131-146. ISBN 9780367617455 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

The creative uses of new motion capture technology place it in the middle of a hybrid and relatively new field where performance and new media come together – an area of practice in which there is widespread interest and a recent proliferation of collaborative projects (especially since 2010 and the release of the Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing device). However, there is arguably a need for a solid theoretical and conceptual framing for these collaborations between the dance and tech worlds. These are practices which are often under-theorised in terms of meaningful insight from the humanities, and this lack of insight into philosophical, cultural, or historical concepts can lead to work that is technologically gimmicky, superficial, and uncomfortably tagged-on to existing practices. Dance-digital collaborative works also often prove difficult to produce because of incongruities in the underlying principles, methodologies, and languages of each separate practice, and for many choreographers, motion capture still seems either not interesting or welcome as a tool for creating new work (Nesta, 2019). As such, there is a need for a deeper understanding of dance digital performance and installation work as a new medium for choreography, with key structuring concepts that appeal equally to dancer and digital artist, and with a functional vocabulary for inter-disciplinary communication and dialogue. Only then will artists be able to embrace and explore the creative possibilities of the new technologies, and the collaborative practices that go with them. To this end, this article refects on lessons learnt in the development of a specific digital dance performance Malta Calls, produced in collaboration with London-based digital visual artists Prickimage and Studio Aszyk, with ZfinMalta Dance Ensemble and choreographer Mavin Khoo, and with students from UCL and Goldsmiths’ computing and design departments

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Book Section

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"This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in 'Dance Data, Cognition, and Multimodal Communication' on 8 September 2022, available online: It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.”


inertial sensor motion capture, digital choreography, real-time generative performance

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


8 September 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

05 Dec 2022 14:52

Last Modified:

08 Mar 2024 02:26


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