Art and engineering unite in interactive dance performance

AMES, Iowa -- Dancers, music and 3-D virtual reality will take the stage together in a new interactive concert dance called "Assisted Living 2." The performance is one of four dances featured at "Soaring," a Co'Motion Dance Theater production at the Ames City Auditorium on April 16 and 17. Co'Motion and Iowa State University's Virtual Reality Applications Center collaborated on the performance.

"We've created a great way to blend performance art and virtual reality," said Carolina Cruz-Neira, an associate professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering and an associate director of the Virtual Reality Applications Center. Cruz-Neira directed a team of four ISU students who developed movement-tracking technology and created the computer graphics for the piece.

Valerie Williams, the director of Co'Motion Dance Theater, choreographed the work. "It's what I call '3-D interactivity,'" Williams said. "The dancers, the sound and the visuals all affect each other."

In "Assisted Living 2," a 3-D cityscape is projected onto screens to create a virtual set. Audience members wearing 3-D glasses will feel they are immersed in the city environment. Sensors worn by the dancers will cause the visuals and music to react to the dancers' movements.

"Soaring" will be performed in the Ames City Auditorium at 515 Clark Ave. at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 16, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 17. Tickets are available at Big Table Books at 330 Main St. in Ames, the Ames Community Center at 515 Clark Ave., at the door or by reservation at 232-7374. General admission is $10; admission is $7 for students and seniors.

A sneak preview will be at Iowa State's Howe Hall Auditorium at 4 p.m. Friday, April 15, as part of a computing forum.