“Novapool” project creates virtual dance company

NSU senior dance majors Shannon Colonna and Christal Yanez will present the “Novapool” dance project with students from the dance department of John Moores University — an instituion in Liverpool, England — on March 1 at 10:30 a.m.

The fascinating aspect of this dance project is in its name: the students will perform simultaneously, but at their respective universities, NSU’s Davie campus and Liverpool, England. The performances will be simulcast on a split screen, creating a “virtual dance company” between two schools on opposite sides of the pond.

The directors of “Novapool”, Luke Kahlich, dance history adjunct professor at the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences, and Professor Pauline Brooks of John Moores University, view this endeavor as an experiment with technology and dance.

According to Elana Lanczi, chair of NSU’s dance program, Kahlich and Brooks developed the project five years ago, while Kahlich was a professor in the dance program at Temple University in Philadelphia.

“[Kahlich] was actually my professor while at Temple, and he has always been interested in dance and technology,” said Lanczi.

Kahlich, who began his work with computers and dance in 1984 and taught a course on the subject, left Temple in 2012, but was able to continue his research with telematics and the arts at NSU.

“My colleague and I have experimented with several models over the last five years, but found that the most successful one was one of collaboration between instructor and students,” said Kahlich. “For this project, Professor Brooks and I dropped the idea into the pond and encouraged students to develop it further.”

Yanez and Colonna have been connecting online with the Liverpool dancers every Friday morning to rehearse.

Yanez said, “It was interesting to experience dance with people who live so far away and not being able to have physical contact.”

According to Yanez, technological issues, such as delays in time, had to be overcome. This project provides an opportunity for instructors, students and audiences to work through the perceptive challenges that technology often creates.

Kahlich said, “It has been a great adventure, both in creating dance and learning technology and its possibilities and limitations.”

The four students in Liverpool — Charlotte Fong, Blaine Greene, Sarah Middleton and Rachel Woollaston — are also dance majors. Brooks hopes that the project will create a sense of community between the participating students.

“From this pilot, we hope to cement stronger international relationships between our two universities.” said Brooks.

After the performance, there will be an open discussion between the audience and the live and virtual dancers.

Kahlich said, “We hope that many people will attend, and also be open about their reactions to this mutual journey.’

The performance and discussion will be in the Don Taft University Center Performance Theater. Admission is free, and open to NSU students, faculty, staff and members of the community. Following the performance, there will be a discussion about the “Novapool” dance project. For more information, contact Elana Lanczi at 954-262-7613.

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