Falling Up


collaboration with composer & multi-media artist

Todd Winkler

Falling Up explores the concepts of gravity, flying and many of it related metaphors: the physical self, imagination, and how beliefs hold us in place, limit and color our experiences. Inspired by inventors and pioneers, the first pilots, astronauts, and digital explorers, we examine moments in the 20th Century where technology enabled us to do something previously impossible and changed how we think forever. The work also speculates on future technologies, enabling the body to be transported, modified and projected.


Three distinct eras are explored throughout the work. The era of the first flight airplane flights include archival footage of fanciful planes that never got off the ground, with tests from 19th Century engineers describing the impossibility of human flight. The second era focuses on space travel and the moon landings. The third era looks to the future, exploring time travel, distortions of time and space, black holes, and other types of body projections. Explanations are offered by a disembodied computer voice, by clips from science fiction films, and by a character who appears several times, the Aviatrix.


These concepts are illustrated through a new kinesthetic vocabulary refined and inspired by live video and sound processing. The choreography is enhanced through the use of the Very Nervous System, which analyses a performer’s movements and reports speed and location to a computer. The motion-sensing technology enables the performer to control various computer processes that can alter her own projected video image and generate sound. In turn, the altered images and the sonic results influence the dancer’s movements. This creates and dynamic three-way interaction, with movement, sound and image created interdependently during a performance. These techniques open up new possibilities to explore the body as an agent for technological transformation, where physical and virtual are merged.


Research for Falling Up was conducted through residencies at the Firkin Crane (Cork) and Brown University (US), which provided facilities and technical assistance. The development process for Falling Up was facilitated by the Dublin Fringe Festival and a choreographic bursary awarded by the Arts Council of Ireland in 2000. The work was premiered at the Project Arts Centre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2001.


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