What if you could remix dances by the world’s top choreographers on your iPad and create elaborate compositions of your own? Passe-Partout, a new app designed by Pentagram partner Abbott Miller for performing arts organization 2wice, lets you do just that.
“There’s a really natural relationship between design and choreography,” Miller tells Co.Design. “It’s design for the stage and the medium is the human body. This app is trying to zero in on the intersection that connects design and dance.” Even those with two left feet can become choreographers of a sort, vicariously living through gravity-defying ballet dancers with a swipe of their fingertips. “The idea was: What if you gave someone the ability to look at dance and pull it apart, then put it back together?” Miller says.
The app is a bit like GarageBand (with its pre-set loops and electronic instrumentation) but for ballet. To create the app, rising choreographer Justin Peck, of the New York City Ballet, composed eight one-minute dance pieces, which were then performed and filmed. To recompose and reframe Peck’s dances into your own movement piece, you just tap and tilt the touch-screen interface (developed by Pentagram’s Eddie Opara). Eight separate layers interact and combine with one another in any order. Composer Aaron Severini created a piece of music, also in eight layers, that can be similarly rearranged and overlaid over a new dance. When you’re finished with your dance mix, you can play it back or (naturally) share it on Facebook.
Fans of the New York City Ballet are often an elite group–but this $1 app is designed to take the beauty of Peck’s work to the masses. And that’s one of the goals of Passe-Partout, which follows two previous dance-related apps Miller designed for 2Wice–Dot Dot Dot and Fifth Wall. All three apps try to make dance–a medium that’s difficult to present outside a live performance venue–accessible to a wider audience.
“There’s nothing tricky about it, no real expertise needed,” Miller says. The app isn’t exactly like a game, but it is a form of creative entertainment. “It lets you look at the patterns of the choreography, the recurrence of shapes, the mirroring and layering that happens with ballet in particular,” Miller says. “It presents dance as a visual art.”