Embracing the messy and situated design of technology for dance


Designing technology for dance presents a unique challenge to conventional design research and methods. It is subject to the diverse and idiosyncratic approaches of the artistic practice that it is situated within. We investigated this by joining a dance company to develop interactive technologies for a new performance. From our firsthand account, we show the design space to be messy and non-linear, demanding flexibility and negotiation between multiple stakeholders and constraints. Through interviews with performers and choreographers, we identified nine themes for incorporating technology into dance, revealing tensions and anxiety, but also evolution and improvised processes to weave complex layers into a finished work. We find design for dance productions to be resistant to formal interpretation, requiring designers to embrace the intertwining stages, steps, and methods of the artistic processes that generate them. We suggest that our findings can be of value in other HCI contexts requiring flexible design approaches.

Proceedings of the Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS ‘23)