Duke Dance Database: Creation of a Digital Multimedia Archive for Live Dance Performance

Tyler Walters, Associate Professor of the Practice, Dance
Martin Brooke, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Project Description:

Tyler Walters, using advanced students in Dance at Duke, collaborated with undergraduate students of Martin Brooke in the ECE undergraduate project class ECE 51, where the students assembled the basic technologies for  creation of a prototype archive of basic ballet vocabulary using 3-D dance recording and archiving.  The initial prototype of the archive, a video library, is being used as a teaching aid for Ballet Fundamentals, Ballet I, and Ballet II.

RFID tags, accelerometers, infrared emitters, and stereo video are among the technologies that were explored for recording.   The library is currently installed in the Blackboard teaching environment and students using it have provided valuable insight into how learning by seeing video works.

The Center for Instructional Technology is provided funding for the project in addition to loaning four high definition hard drive camcorders that were used in the dance data capture process.

Walters and Brooke hoped that students in Duke Dance Ballet classes would improve their learning of Ballet vocabulary by being able to watch experienced dancers perform the movements any time, not just in class or at performances.  Extent of student use of the video archives varied, but those who used the resource consistently noted the helpfulness of having the archive available.  They responded positively to the ease of access and showed consistent improvement in class.  Because of this, Walters was able to press forward with new material at a more rapid pace, rather than continuing to review previously covered dance vocabulary and concepts.  A video of a student using the archive is located here (mp4).

brook1Walters and Brooke also hoped that Duke Electrical and Computer Engineering students would find motivation for design projects with dance applications.  The ECE 51 students have been building interactive dance related projects and funding for the work came from a Duke Collaborative Arts Grant that the PIs obtained at the same time as the CIT grant.

  • video of students demonstrated a motion sensor cane that can be used by dancers (YouTube)

They hoped to gain some insight into process of learning via observation, in particular how it relates to viewing 2D and 3D recordings of movements to be learned.  The use of video to enable Engineering Students to learn to build and test a variety of key electronics circuits is now being used in ECE 51.  Although not what the grant was funded to do the success of the videos in enabling students to build sophisticated projects early in their undergraduate careers has been demonstrated, and is a direct result of work on this grant.  The results of this class were presented at the CIT showcase in 2010.  (presentation PowerPoint file)

A project to develop 3-D motion capture is on going.  A working motion tracking hardware device has been created, and is being refined as student project resources enable.  Commercial motion tracking hardware has also been purchased and will be used to implement a body tracking system.  Camera based 3-D human body modeling is also being explored.

Project start date: 1/12/2009

Funding awarded:  $6,300