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Series of Experiments in Sound and Dance

During my residency at University of Maryland (Spring semester, 2024), I continued a lifetime fascination of studying sound through an ethnomusicological lens, by using dance as an instrument of research.

Spending time at the University’s series of libraries, from the Driskell Center to McKeldin, I studied archives of the African diaspora’s relationship to sound, dance, ritual, and spirit. I also studied documents within the Eastern world’s archive - using calligraphy forms as inspiration in designing my body through dance.

I used my residency to explore sound and dance through an experimental scientific approach. While in the motion capture studios,  I’d dance to a playlist of music across the diaspora. Doing so through improvisation versus choreography/pre-planning was intentionally done to be able to catalog my movements in correlation to sound, for an extended research project. The motion capture technologies allowed me to digitize my physical movements to then later apply them to 3D rendered characters. The experiments I’m sharing throughout the summer explore the relationships between sound, dance, cinematography (or what I like to call, “camera choreography”), and other sensual elements.

In my personal relationship to music and dance, I’ve intuitived:
- Correlations between sound and how the body moves
- How sound can be a catalyst for ancestral memories captive in the body
- And how improvisational dancing cultivates neural pathways for alternative understandings

All 3 of which are being tested and affirmed through research papers, archive of the diaspora, and this project.

Below are images of this ongoing process: