Exposing Layers:

A Behind-the-Scrim Look at Choreography in Mixed Reality Environments (2022)

My 2022 Graduate MFA Dance Thesis work, Exposing Layers, is a performance that uses a live camera to capture dance on a proscenium stage and projects it on a downstage scrim. The audience can see through the scrim’s projection to observe dancers and camera movement upstage. Today, internet access has made unveiling digital art techniques a secondary performance through tutorials and ‘behind-the-scenes’ explanations. This work is situated in a constant ‘behind-the-scenes’ point of view. It is a performance of method as well as a performance of the relationship between live action and real-time feedback. It makes the ‘cause and effect’ visible on the stage and scrim, which offers a viewing experience that is different from solely stage performance or cinema. The choreography considers a dialogue between the stage performers and mediated bodies on the scrim to ask how they co-exist. Knowledge of the inscribed dancing body is used to create movements of the camera as an extension of the body.

Choreography: Katie Phelan, in collaboration with the dancers

Thesis Committee Chair: Professor Daniel Fine

Thesis Committee Members: Professor Stephanie Miracle & Professor Eloy Barragan

Original Sound Design: Jacob Smithburg

Costume Design: Juliana Waechter

Lighting Design: Jim Albert

Animation Design: Katie Phelan

Digital Media Coordinator: Emily Berkheimer

Dramaturg: Emmalee Hallinan

Projection Design: Katie Phelan

Video Support: Michael Landez

Dancers: Emily Berkheimer, Kara Bouck, Ellie Daley, Kendra McDaniel, Zoe Miller, Ellen Oliver, Kaitlyn Rogers, Emily Trapnell

Thesis Committee: Daniel Fine, Stephanie Miracle, Eloy Barragán

This performance will use theatrical strobe lighting effects.

This project is generously supported with equipment from the University of Iowa Department of Dance, Public Digital Arts program, and Daniel Fine.