Illinois' Japan arts network sets final show

Illinois' Japan arts network sets final show

CHAMPAIGN — The Illinois Japan Performing Arts Network, a three-year program, will end with a free performance Thursday in which multiple dancers in various locations will perform together.

The work, "Timings, an Internet Dance," will take place at 7 p.m. Three Illinois dance alumnae — Laura Chiaramonte, Claire Happel and Alana Parekh — will perform live in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts second-floor dance studio.

During the performance, they will interact with six dancers in DeKalb and with two well-known Butoh dancers in Tokyo: Jun Makime and Yumi Sagara.

Michael Junokas, a doctoral candidate in music composition at the University of Illinois, will provide live music for the free event, which is open to the public. Seating is limited.

Since forming in 2010, the Illinois Japan Performing Arts Network has used the UI's computing resources to foster collaborations and interactions among Japanese and American artists, scholars and audiences.

The network has hosted 15 events, including performances by Japan's Noh and kabuki theater artists; musicians renowned for their mastery of the biwa, koto, sho and angular harp; and live streams of performances from the Japan Society of New York.

John Toenjes, the network's technical director, is trying something new for the network's final production Thursday. The director of music for the UI Dance Department will stage a production that will involve more than a collaborative performance live-streamed from remote locales.

"Those have been done since 2004," he said.

Instead, the piece will involve live dancers and their avatars in three locations — the UI, Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and Digital Hollywood University in Tokyo.

Motion-capture and video-mlooping technology will enable the dancers to respond to each other and to the avatars, recasting the dancers' original gestures.

For the dance, Toenjes will use data-transfer lags and delays that can normally hinder live-stream events as metaphora for real-life timing snags.

"The fastest way to transmit a motion from one place to another is with just pure data," he said. "If we use motion tracking, the data can get to another site quite quickly. If we take that same motion and live-stream it, it takes seven or eight seconds, maybe even longer.

"And if we record it on video, then loop it, that's an even longer process. What I'm doing with this dance is just kind of layering all these different media with the same information."

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