Dancers control mutating virus in immersive ballet

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Opening this week at The Northern Ballet, Leeds, as part of Light Night Leeds 2021, is the world première of Mutation Space, an immersive dance and visual experience exploring the nature of viruses and the human impact on our environment and health.

Rehearsing Fubunation dancers in motion interact with Mutator projections

Using live-motion sensor technology, artists from black British contemporary dance company Fubunation interact with large-scale projections by visual artist pioneer William Latham from the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths, and collaborators Stephen Todd, Peter Todd and Lance Putnam.

Via HTC Vive trackers on the dancers' wrists, their body movements drive the shape and colour of the projected organic forms around them.  

Professor Latham said: “In our exciting collaboration with Fubunation, our first work in the world of ballet, we capture the dancers’ body movements to mutate and pull apart a huge projected Covid-like virus made up of serpentine forms. This dialogue between the dancers and the virus is then explored within the performance."

Last week the dancers used St James Hatcham on the Goldsmiths campus campus as a rehearsal space before travelling to Leeds.

Photographs taken by Peter Todd show the performance in action and William Latham and Nicky Donald, who worked on the technical performance set up and testing, in London and Leeds. The event was curated by Lucy Dusgate.

Video of rehearsals is available to watch via William’s LinkedIn profile

Mutation Space is the latest project developed by Mutator VR, which started in the late 1980s “to evolve computer generated organic forms by a process of evolution by aesthetics”.  

With new technology and collaborations bringing together visual art, software engineering and scientific modelling, Mutator VR has evolved into a suite of highly original VR experiences which enable users to immerse themselves in experientially rich virtual landscapes based on rigorous mathematical modelling of biological systems. 

Mutator VR has been widely shown internationally in exhibitions Kyoto, Shanghai, Venice, Dusseldorf, Paris Linz and St. Petersburg over the past five years.

Fubunation dancers rehearse