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A dancer's trace I

Masters Thesis Project

Fall 2019


Design brief

The objective of my thesis is to translate movements in Kathak dance through expressive explorations of form to evoke an emotional response in the audience.


In order to achieve this, I carried out different formal experiments to visualize the hand and feet movement in Kathak dance form. Below is my first expriment in which 
I painted on a 2-D canvas the feet movement during a performance. 


This experiment involved painted feet on paper along with a ~40sec choreography by Guru Pali Chandra called “Paran-judi-aamad.” I divided this composition in smaller segments and performed using the same methodology. This was done to ensure that we can visually see each segment as distinctly as possible.


I used the color of the paint to differentiate my left and right feet. I observed how different movement patterns leave traces of motion on the paper. For instance, the splatter of the paint (in terms of its surface spread) could be a proxy for speed at which feet land on the ground. Similarly, I noticed that the fading nature of the paint provided information on temporality in the performance despite the footprints overlapping at times. This experiment provided early evidence for how traces of dance movement even on a 2-D paper can inform an observer about the movements that might have taken place in the actual performance.



Final outcomes

Here you can see the trace of the footwork for the whole composition and all it's parts. 



Design process​

In order to capture the movement of the feet on the 2D plane of the floor, I used paint on paper to ink my feet and capture them on a white canvas placed on the floor while performing. This allowed me to break down the choreography into the eight sections and preserve the complex movements. The end result was a series of eight visualizations that gave more insights into the patterns of foot movement and use of the stage (i.e., the 2D space on the floor).

The set up to capture the dance footwork consisted of two cameras – a Go-Pro to capture the wide frame from top and a DSLR Canon E5 that focused on movement of the feet. I used different color paints (pink and blue) to distinguish between my left and right foot respectively.


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