Eyes Shut: Dancing for your Body

What does it feel like to dance for yourself — and your body — rather than for an audience?

Coming Soon: Issue 5 Residency

By Chetana Pai
15 Jun 2022

Chetana was Container’s Artist in Residence in Spring 2022.

Here’s Chetana, giving some context to the video:

This video is the documentation of a 20 day project that involved me dancing everyday for 15 minutes with a dance technology system that I built last year.

The visuals in this video are from the daily recordings of my dancing sessions and the voiceover is based on the journal I kept where I wrote down how I felt after each session. The voiceover may not always match the visuals directly, but it tells you what I was feeling and thinking about at that time.

Something I noticed while editing was how as more days passed my videos got darker and darker, like I really stopped focusing on what the camera was recording and if it could see me clearly. I just wanted to move in the darkness. The last two clips get very bright again. I danced in bright daylight. I think I had gotten so comfortable at that point that I no longer felt conscious of myself and I no longer relied on darkness to be able to really shut the world off.

It was a long project that took a lot of my physical and emotional energy but I’m very pleased that I managed to do it. It has taught me many things about myself and I definitely recommend finding your own way to focus on the physical experience of your body, instead of just the visuals.

The system itself is very simple and is essentially just a bluetooth microphone you strap to your face using two facemasks. The first facemask is a hard plastic mask with a hole cut out that the mic piece can be mounted on, and the second mask is a fabric facemask that holds the first mask and mic in place, and provides some isolation for the mic. When the dancer wearing the system breathes out into the mic the audio peaks and MIDI notes in a specific scale are triggered. In this way the breathing rhythm of the dancer is reflected in the music. The output is played out loud and not through earphones. For more information about the system and the initial experiment it was built for, you can read my thesis here.