Whether it’s through tap shoes, tutus, or trash can lids, dancers have long used relatively humble technologies to amplify their artform. Now, in the era of tiny, cheap sensors, dance accessories are entering the digital age.
In E-Traces, designer Lesia Trubat has wired a pair of ballet shoes to track the wearer’s movements. The soles have pressure sensors that detect how the foot hits the floor, and an integrated Lilypad Arduino chip handles all of the processing. We suspect that there’s probably an accelerometer on each shoe as well.
As a result, E-Trace can capture the calligraphic strokes of a dancer’s foot gliding across the floor. Those movements are then translated into video, and even, eventually, could be incorporated into a dance performance. It’s not hard to imaging projectors making an entire stage glow with these lines, cascading around a soloist wearing a pair of the shoes.
When you consider E-Trace in the current landscape of experimental dance technologies–which includes kinetic instruments, drones, projection mapping, even computer viruses–you realize that dance may just be the fulcrum of a whole new mixed medium of personal expression.