Thursday, September 24, 2009

Video Games Inspiring Dance

Can video games inspire dance moves?

Sure, why not? At the very least, it can be an experimental exercise to entertain. The story goes that skaters have played Tony Hawk video games and experimented with different move combinations inside the game world. They'd see cool combos and then try them out in their backyard. As street dancers, we don't have many examples of dance video games. But a few years ago, there was a title called "BBoy" that was released on the Sony Playstation 2 and PSP. The gameplay involved button combinations made on a controller leading to move combinations on screen. Poppers are known for seeking out inspiration in the world around them from robotic toys to aquatic fish to Bugs Bunny doing an Egyptian King Tut pose. We could look at gameplay interfaces as sources of interesting movement.

It wouldn't be surprising if extreme martial arts tricksters looked at the Street Fighter series for crazy kick and jump combos. Street Fighter is a worthwhile movement reference to look at since the postures, jumps, punches, and kicks could be reinterpreted into dance moves for bboys, poppers, and lockers. The challenge is to take these moves out of a fighting context from a game, and then reinvent it with our dance sensibilities. Perhaps it could lead to new types of dynamic moves we've never seen before. If you've ever heard bboys talk about power moves, it's like they're discussing the possibilities of putting a series of windmills, 90s, air flares, and hand hops into different combinations. Poppers could adopt a similar approach if they looked at moving between diverse styles like animation, tutting, waving, and boogaloo.

And what about melding or fusing bboy-inspired moves with popping-inspired moves? When we start looking at moves as isolated units, it's possible to start hybridizing. Yes, it's important to distinguish how these two dances are different from each other. But experimentation can be a free canvas where inquisitive minds are liberated to play. It's possible that a whole new genre of street dance can emerge from this kind of approach.

Video games are often playful as well. Sometimes, it's easy to forget the playfulness of Mario, Luigi, and Pac Man. But game animators have invested their talents in creating unique, personality-driven movements for these characters. We can draw from this playfulness and inject a new sense of fun into our dance.

If anything, video games are a reflection of modern day 21st century culture. They reveal how our visual vocabulary has been influenced by computerized, digitized, animated movement. And it's filtering into our dance sensibilities. Our communication landscape is changing so why can't our dance influences?

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