The Flutterfugue

An experimental interactive collaboration between dancers and musicians, performers and audiences, people and butterflies, those who can move in physical space and those who can fly in their imaginations . . .

The Flutterfugue is a performance experiment that has taken many forms as the chrysalis has unfolded in different cultures over a period of several years. This project was originally conceived by Lizbeth Goodman and her colleagues in the performance and new media communities as an experiential interface that might contribute to the empowerment of dancers and other creative people (including music lovers everywhere) who could, for whatever reason, not move their bodies as freely as they might wish in time with the music they love.

Lizbeth moves, stretches, flutters, dances as a hybrid creature- half human and half winged spirit- with movements controlled by the audience, who respond both to the music (the Flutterfugue score) and in response to a collaborating dancer: a butterfly, which sometimes takes the form of a puppet and sometimes takes the form of an animation. Lizbeth spins, flutters and flies when the Flutterfly flies, and when she takes off, so do the audience, wheelchair dancers and other collaborators who participate and lead / contribute to the total dance. In this way, a wide range of people can participate in a shared performance, and can feel empowered to move, whether physically or by proxy. Participants may contribute and dance from anywhere, whatever their range of physical mobility, and whether they are physically present in the same location or separated by real space and connected by the world wide web.

The current phase of this work in progress has emerged from a series of experiments that began in 1999 when Lizbeth began dancing with ten-foot puppets (marionettes) to test the range of emotional frustrations corresponding to limitations on the physical movement of limbs. The work has since progressed through a series of remote choreographic and telematic experiments, with the most recent 3D screen creations for animated flying dancers offered by the CATlab. Nick Ryan has joined the team recently as the sound designer / composer who will work on the next stages to help the flutterfugue reach new levels of interactivity in musical contexts both live and online. In the next iteration, the team hopes to include culturally specific butterflies that may be posted to the web and then released into the shared performance space in a real-time international flutterfugue.


Conceived by Lizbeth Goodman, (artistic director./choregrapher/dancer) Nick Ryan (sound design/composer), Ken Perlin (modeleler/animatior/technology artist), and Clilly Castiglia (technical director/producer). With puppeteers and optical artists Kate Brehm, Brian Duffy, Eva Jacobus, Rob Burke Joel Kollin (research scientist), Daniel Kristjansson (research scientist), Kevin Feeley (technical assistant), Jonathan Starck, Joel Mitcheson, Adrian Hilton, Marc Price, Vesna Milanovic, et al. Costumes designed by Diana Fu, Savannah Miller, Laura Brooks, Mustafa Elmaz, Emma Rutherford, Yuki Honjo-Arthur, and Anna Aagaard.of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, under the direction of Susan Jenkyn Jones.

This experiment for the Storm King Music Festival 2002 was produced with support from the Gulbenkian Trust grant to the SMARTlab, and with in kind support from the CATlab NY.

The work presented is a collaboration of the VIP Project of the SMARTlab UK, with the CATlab NYU, BBC Imagineering, BBC R&D/Kingswood Warren, the Mindgames Research Group of Media Lab Europe, et al. but the team would like to thank and credit the kind support of many researchers and creative teams around the world (all of whom have contributed their time, ideas, talents and efforts gratis as each new phase of the project developed) including the Theatre Museum/Victoria and Albert Museum, Forkbeard Fantasy, UCL, UniS, BBC, Jakub Segan of Bell Labs, Southeast Arts and the Code Zebra Project, and Sian Ede of the Gulbenkian Trust.

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