Dansathon - Digital Umbilical (part 1)

In September 2018 I am invited to take part in the inaugural ‘Dansathon’ - a 3 day dance hackathon organised by Sadler’s Wells, London; Maison De La Danse, Lyon; Théâtre de Liège; and Foundation BNP Paribas at the Olympic Park in London.

DANSATHON is a connected, collaborative, European event in London, Lyon and Liege to imagine the future of dance. Its vision is to combine the power of dance in all its forms and new technologies to explore new ways to create, perform, and share dance with a diverse audience.

Over the next three days a diverse assembly of dancers, choreographers, technologists, designers, writers and performers will form groups which will evolve, mutate, re-form and coalesce in a co-creation process of collective intelligence. The outcome is the creation of new work-in-progress to be presented on the final day, the ‘laureate’ project to be granted a 10,000 Euro development fund by BNP Paribas.

The event is documented in great detail, videos are available here and the drawings of the scribe here.

By the end of the second day the groups have settled in a steady state and ideas have been somewhat fixed, we have just a few hours to build prototypes, rehearse some moves and prepare for presentation to the judging panel. Starting with the theme

“Dance Beyond Dimensions - How might dance exist so that dimensions of distance and time are not limiting factors?”

we conceive a piece that explores how technology can be soulful, an experience which allows for an organic connection between strangers, deepened through the use of technology.

In a one to one experience, wearable technology worn by both audience member and performer is used to create a soundscape from the breath of the dancer and the pulse of the spectator. Empathy grows between the dancer and the audience as they connect with the physiological experience of another.

Digital Umbilical is unique to the moment and the individuals – a conversation between them, enhanced by the use of technology and the senses. The ability to experience the physicality and emotional state of another human is a way of positioning the human at the heart of this technological experimentation.


Exhausted after 3 days of intense work, debate and thought we await the judges’ determination.. and become the first Laureate recipients!


With a grant of 10,000 Euros and performances in London, Lyon and Liege to look forward to there is still much work to be done. Read on in part 2.

photo credits: Andreea Tufesca