LAIT in use

LAIT is beginning to be put to use to “kick the tires” of the system. The first public demonstration of the LAIT system was at the NCSA Faculty Fellows talk on March 4, 2015. The app functioned very well, and we demonstrated the ability to display graphics and change the color of the phone screen, and to animate text. Since then, LAIT designers have been introducing the app in a number of different demonstrations of varying scale. By examining LAIT “in its natural habitat,” we better understand the conditions under which the LAIT app thrives and what to consider as we move forward in development.

American College Dance Festival

One week after the Fellow talk, LAIT was put to use at the American College Dance Festival (ACDA) at Iowa State University. At this event, a dance improvisation was guided by LAIT, with the dancers holding their cell phones. It was a really fun time, and all the dancers got into it. LAIT functioned remarkably well under this rather stressful environment for the phones.  Here is a video excerpt from this event, where the dancers are looking for a “leader” by looking at pictures of other dancers that were shown randomly on random phones. The system is so quickly configurable and flexible, that we were able to insert dancers pictures into the system right before the dance, and have them be the basis for the improvisation!

The only problem LAIT had was that at times some of the phones disconnected from the server. We think may be due more to lots of fingers all over the phones, switching apps midstream, and such, rather than any fundamental problem in the LAIT system. But this is all part of the learning curve for mobile apps in a performance setting!

Boneyard Arts Festival
Our next event was at the Boneyard Arts Festival Kick-Off Party with Cody & The Gateway Drugs at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Thursday April 9, 2015, 5 pm.

National Dance Education Organization conference
At “Participatory cellphone Theatre: Improvisational I performance using LAIT mobile applications,” attendees were encouraged to download the application and participate in the performance. A dedicated onsite event server was identified as a useful addition to LAIT deployment.

INTERFACE: Public Figure
As a part of the University of California artists’ residency program, LAIT is being demonstrated through a participatory mobile device improvisation using the LAIT app. Afterwards, based upon feedback from participants, we may remake the app and redo the improvisation, to explore possibilities within this innovative art form. Participants are urged to bring Apple or Android smartphones and/or tablets, and to have their batteries fully charged just prior to the workshop. Additionally, Toenjes will guest teach in INTERFACE Ensemble (Hall’s student ensemble), Dance and Video, and will present his LAIT workshop which is free and open to the UCI community in the xMPL Theater on Friday, October 23rd at noon.

Dance Improvisation Mini-Faire at UIUC
In November 2015 we used LAIT in another dance choreography, this time by choreographer David Marchant, Professor of the Practice at Washington University in St. Louis. An interesting inside view comes from Bob McGrath, who wrote this article for the local magazine Smile Politely:

Improvising dancers use LAIT

Improvising dancers use LAIT

 Critical Mass

The next dance using LAIT was developed at the University of Illinois. Chad Michael Hall from the University of California-Irvine once again worked with LAIT’s director John Toenjes and Tony Reimer to make a new dance featuring LAIT. We were excited to use the nearly-released version 1.2 of LAIT in this dance, which was shown in its nascent state on April 8-9, 2016 in the Krannert Center Playhouse Theater. We had lots of people come to check out the latest theatrical use of LAIT in a dance context, and this performance generated a lot of interest, and a lot of press.

In February of 2017 we debuted a fully-staged production of “Critical Mass,” on the Colwell Playhouse stage at the Krannert Center. This video shows the workings of LAIT within that production:

And here is a video of the entire dance:

Dancers in "Critical Mass"

Dancers in “Critical Mass”

 West Hollywood Dance Festival

Our latest LAIT production was as an audience engagement tool at the West Hollywood Dance Festival, in August of 2017. The app was used instead of a printed program, interactively letting the audience see the program and information about the dances in advance, and during the show, it kept them up to date on which dance was showing next. (Video of that interaction is coming…)