After choreographing live dance for company Divas Dance Theatre and making a series of award-winning screendance films (including Motion Control and Anarchic Variations) Billy Cowie has recently been making stereoscopic dance installations that give the impression to the viewer that they are sharing the space with live dancers. The works are projected videos and the audiences wear anaglyph or shutter 3D glasses.
The principal aims of these pieces are: firstly, to give the spectator an up-close and intimate view of dance that would be impossible in a normal theatre; secondly, to increase the dance audience by making dance works that can remain in situ for long periods of time; thirdly, to develop new choreographic styles that inhabit and exploit the technical limitations imposed by the medium.
The latest work Art of Movement combines the 3D dancers with live dancers in a 55-minute theatrical show (also available in purely virtual form).
The works are extremely flexible, scalable and adaptable to a wide variety of venues and spaces including outdoors. Presentations extend from single screenings to durational installations of up to three months.
The work is attractive to a wide audience including children and those unfamiliar with contemporary dance.
For texts pieces, versions are available in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Arabic and Japanese (other languages by arrangement).
Tango de Soledad (Tango of Solitude) is a five minute dance solo choreographed by Billy Cowie and danced by Amy Hollingsworth. The piece is performed against specially constructed drawings (by Silke Mansholt) that give the viewers the impression that they are sharing the space with a real life-sized solid dancer.
Dance performance combining real and virtual 3D dancers (who are indistinguishable). Live version suitable for studio theatre up to 150 audience and installation version with no real dancers suitable for gallery space running continuoulsy all day. Commissioned by Kyoto Experiment Festival and South East Dance with support from Arts Council England. Winner of the Prix du Jury at FCIDC 2013 (Festival Culturel International de Danse Contemporaine).
The productions tour with a single artist for set up who will also be available for workshops, lectures and discussions.
"Contemporary dance lovers were amazed by the performance presented by the Scottish choreographer Billy Cowie, as part of the Fifth International Contemporary Dance Festival. Stereoscopic Trilogy 2 offered an unprecedented visual experience in contemporary dance, based on symmetrical games between a dancer (Jacqueline Clarke Mitchell), physically present on stage, and holograms of other dancers, projected on a screen. Composed of three sections, this one hour long choreography unfolds a poetic virtual universe."
Abia Selles, Le Jour d'Algerie
"Jacqueline Mitchell is the live dancer in both Art of Movement and Dark Rain. But once our 3D glasses are on, she seamlessly enters an other-worldly realm alongside a virtual dancer. Precisely timed actions become more than choreographic demonstrations, they're a dialogue in (and across) other dimensions. This interaction is at its spookiest in Jenseits, where two screens simultaneously show a virtual Oxana Panchenko on a ladder seen through shifting monochrome patterns: the same, but also different, like echoes of a self in the here and now, or maybe in the here-after. Afterwards, the urge to pinch yourself is irresistible."
Mary Brennan, The Herald
"Tango de Soledad is a terrific piece of work. A stereoscopic video installation, featuring the athletic Amy Hollingsworth performing a solo tango against a background, and a literal ground, drawn by Silke Mansholt. 3D glasses put the life-sized dancer solidly into the drawn, room-sized space in front of you. Everything about it is perfectly judged."
Aidan Dunne, The Irish Times