Dance Dance Ribbon

Visualizing dance movement by tracking the body with Microsoft’s Kinect.


Dance Dance Ribbon was an exploration of how we can use software as a tool of expression. We focused on visualizing dance by tracking the body of a dancer and tracing their movements with trails of ribbons. Specifically, we wanted to show that dance is a medium of expression, leading to different outputs. After tracking body movement data using Microsoft’s Kinect, we crossed it with a Processing software library to add the trails behind the movement.


In each culture, dance encompasses many distinct forms. Whether people dance for religious reasons, educational or for pure entertainment, in all forms movement helps to communicate emotion. Every motion of the body has a purpose to share the meaning of a story. In a formal performance, lighting, sound and costumes are used to enhance this story. We were curious to see on stage, how software can also be used to enhance dance in real-time.


While tracing movements, the program we wrote also saved a picture every few frames, leaving the dancer with images of their movements to examine afterwards. On each frame we showed the time of the movement in correlation with the song, the spectrum peak of the song, and also whether the beat was on or off at that moment. For our exhibition at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, we created a flip book and print-outs from these images. Through these visualizations, dancers and spectators were able to study the differences between types of dance.


Collaborators: Razan Sadeq

Special Thanks: Joshua Noble and David Gauthier