Case Western Reserve University Brings Virtual Reality to the Dance Floor

Nov 10, 2017

The HoloLens augmented reality system allows audiences to view live dancers and projected 3-D images. The dance piece 'Imagined Odyssey' by Gary Galbraith debuting this weekend in Cleveland is the first to use the system.
Credit CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY

Microsoft’s virtual reality imaging system is being used for the first time in a dance performance.

The dance piece debuting this weekend in Cleveland uses technology typically seen in the science lab.

HoloLens is Microsoft’s foray into the virtual reality realm. Case Western Reserve University last year became the first institution to use it to teach anatomy to medical students.

Audience members wear HoloLens headsets to view the virtual reality dance performance.
Credit JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

Now the system is being used to create a virtual world for viewers of an original dance work.

Choreographer and artistic director Gary Galbraith says he saw potential beyond the lecture hall for the 3-D holograms used in science classes.

“Here was an opportunity to use technology in a different kind of way that bring images and imagistic experience to the viewer and how can I not look at this and experiment with it and dig into it,” says Galbraith.

Erin Henninger  is director of the Interactive Commons, the creative unit at Case that developed the holograms.

She says working with dancers has helped her team learn new ways to use the technology teach anatomy and physics.  

“And bring these different kind of thinking together, different kinds of disciplines together, to look at ways of doing things in new ways whether it’s solving problems in health, or climate change, or educational environments.”

Choreographer and artistic director Gary Galbraith worked with Erin Henninger and her team at Case Western Reserve University's Interactive Commons to create 'Imagined Odyssey' using the HoloLens system.
Credit JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

Audience members wear a headset that projects images onto a screen that dancers appear to interact with and manipulate.

The performances run through November 18th at the Mather Dance Center at Case Western.