pattern recognition

Pattern Recognition

DanceXchange, The Patrick Centre

Birmingham Hippodrome


AS soon as it starts it is obvious that Alexander Whitley Dance Company’s Pattern Recognition is no ordinary contemporary dance production.

The row of floor-based spotlights strobing their beams of intense light around the auditorium and three industrial fence-like gauze panels obscuring the view of the two dancers (David Ledger and Julia Sanz Fernández) make the first few seconds a little bewildering and somewhat difficult to watch.

But all soon becomes clear once the dancers move the panels and spots around the dance floor.  Choreographer Alexander Whitely uses this piece to explore the relationships between dance, motion-responsive technology and artificial intelligence (AI).

The visual design created by Memo Akten involves the use of motion sensors and moving lights to track, learn from and respond to the movement of the dancers.  Although there is set choreography, the interactive elements are live and not pre-programmed and therefore each performance will be original and unique, not only to the audience but also to the dancers.

At times it was eerily beautiful and breathtaking as the couple writhed balletically, telling the story of a human relationship whilst being followed and observed by the ‘eyes’ of the spotlights. There was a definite feeling of these lights being ‘alive’ almost human and part of the relationship which certainly added to the captivating performance. Music created by Scanner and Oliver Coates positively enhanced the overall effect.

As stand-alone, the choreography was good but fairly ordinary. No doubt this was a concession that had to be made in order to integrate the technology.  To achieve optimum response from the motion sensors, each movement has to be carefully considered; a process that is far more time consuming than conventional choreography.

As an overall production it was creative, mesmerising and unique. It successfully created a true synergy, not only between the two excellent dancers but also the technology.

Well worth seeing. (Look out for the lights taking their bows). To 04-11-16

Rosemary Manjunath



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