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Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

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Measuring Architecture with Dance Choreography

Measuring Architecture with Dance Choreography

Could the intention of a dance be measurable? Through my notation research in architecture and dance choreography at IALab, tools that architects and choreographers gradually developed through their collaborative activities provided new words for dance choreography with architectural terms, opening new possibilities for their creative approaches.

A contemporary Belgian choreographer, Frédéric Flamand has been exploring ‘scaling’ as one of his objectives, working with several architects over the past decade.In Moving Target (1996), in particular, the challenge of ‘scaling’ and ‘de-scaling’ can be seen in a collaboration with notable architectural practice Diller + Scofidio.

‘Scaling’ is one of the notion used for the measurement of object / space in architecture and it enables us to capture information of things. However, if it is used for dance choreography, how the element of movement could be captured? Does the use of this term give more opportunity for artists to condition movement spatially to organise occupation of space, in relation to the dancer’s interaction?

Diller + Scofidio combined a virtual stage on a large-scale floating mirror with projection technology, incorporating architectural source and body presence provided by dancers who move according to specific targets, which are projected on a screen. Encounters between the real dancer’s movement and the virtually reflected bodies are merged on multiple planes. By mapping space and actions, several technologies support optimised scenography, which creates deception within space. During the creation, Flamand and his dancers are also challenged by the space and respond dynamically in a rapidly changing environment.

moveing target

‘Moving Target’ by Frédéric Flamand and Diller + Scofidio


The significance of this challenge in making space is that, with the use of technology, it can turn a space into an instrument, which in this case is a tool to give a measurement in choreography. It receives and reflects the dynamic process of movement and reflect it back to the environment.

The evidence of this piece shows how precision is perceived in different individuals. By mapping behaviour, which is embodied in the organised programme, each dancer’s movement is allowed to travel away from their bodies. Ultimately, they become observable objects as well as being independent from the original scale.



Image resources:

Cover image ‘Moving Target’ by Frédéric Flamand and Diller + Scofidio:

Image in the text: ‘Moving Target’ by Frédéric Flamand and Diller + Scofidio:


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