Professor to Strengthen Digital Dynamics of Dance via NEH Grant

Rebecca SalzerWith support from the National Endowment for Humanities, a dance professor at The University of Alabama will lead an innovative effort to improve online access to digital dance resources for education and scholarship.

Rebecca Salzer, assistant professor of dance and interim director of the UA Collaborative Arts Research Initiative, received a Digital Humanities Advancement grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in a funding round announced this month.

“While digital video makes recording dance easier, archives of recorded dance have not been made available online for education and research, and dance scholars face significant geographical and financial barriers to access,” Salzer said. “Our project brings together dance scholars, archivists and educators for a three-day symposium during which attendees will explore expansion and aggregation of existing online dance resources along with the design of a new pilot resource.”

Despite the existence of several dance notation systems, dance remains largely an oral tradition; transferred from teacher to student and performer to performer. Film and video now serve as “text” for dance; making them key for both preservation and analysis. While the evolution of video technology has progressively made recording dance easier, methods of sharing these records have not kept pace with technologies allowing online delivery.

Dances available on video sharing and social media websites are not well organized and sometimes posted without the consent of the artist. Also, those websites usually contain only clips, rather than full-length recordings of the performance.

“Excerpts are of limited use to scholars and educators,” Salzer said. “It would be like teaching an art history class in which you could only show students one corner of a painting.”

The $50,000 grant will support a symposium at UA’s Collaborative Arts Research Initiative in May 2019, as well as presentation of the symposium’s findings to stakeholders in four major U.S. cities.  Salzer is also working with the Alabama Digital Humanities Center, which will be the project’s online home.

“I believe that our project can improve access to the digital dance resources we have and also pave the way for dance to more dynamically inhabit digital space,” Salzer said.

It is one of 253 humanities projects recently funded by the NEH, many of which apply new technologies and digital methods to innovative humanities research and public programs. The Digital Humanities Advancement grants will also help document, preserve and ensure access to materials of critical importance to the nation’s cultural heritage, from fragile artifacts and manuscripts to analog and digital recordings subject to technological obsolescence.

motion capture studio

Director of Dance and Technology at Ohio State to Speak at CARI Information Sessions

Norah Zuniga Shaw, the director of Dance and Technology at Ohio State University Department of Dance and Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD) will be a guest speaker during two information sessions. Faculty interested in applying for a CARI Fellowship are encouraged to attend one of the four information/inspiration sessions.

Norah Zuniga Shaw is an artist and creative director best known for her award-winning digital projects that center choreographic ideas as catalysts for interdisciplinary and intercultural discovery. Her newest project, Livable Futures brings together faculty and students from across the arts and humanities for creative resistance and collective resilience in response to planetary conditions of crisis. Since 2004, Shaw has been Director for Dance and Technology at The Ohio State University Department of Dance and ACCAD, where she is a professor and teaches interdisciplinary research, improvisation, and intermedia.

R. Benjamin Knapp to Speak at CARI Information Sessions

R. Benjamin Knapp, the Director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech will be a guest speaker during two information sessions about CARI Fellowships. Faculty interested in applying for a CARI Fellowship are encouraged to attend one of the four information/inspiration sessions.

R. Benjamin Knapp is the Founding Executive Director for ICAT and Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. ICAT seeks to promote research and education at the nexus of art, design, engineering, and science. For more than 25 years, Knapp has been working to create meaningful links between human-computer interaction, universal design, and various forms of creativity. His research on human-computer interaction has focused on the development and design of user-interfaces and software that allow both composers and performers to augment the physical control of a musical instrument with direct physiological interaction.