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Saturday, 23 February 2013

Social Media takes the stage

Thanks to Stephanie Pickerill who contacted me with the following blog post, exploring how social media and digital technologies can be used in performance. This post focuses on the work Stephanie is currently doing as Social Media Manager for IJAD Dance Company and the In-Finite project. If you have any experiences of using social media in performance, please feel free to post a comment below



The tradition of sitting quietly in a darkened auditorium and clapping politely when the curtain comes down is less than two hundred years old. Many performance venues are asking why social media is so important, surely its just another form of marketing? Can social media blur the lines between the performance and the audience? Can it be used as part of the performance itself?

The In-Finite project hopes to explore some of these questions. IJAD Dance Company has been integrating new technology into performance for 13 years.  In-Finite started with user generated content gathered from around the globe. The theme of In-Finite is secrets and the performance is comprised of over 100 (give yours @shhh2013). Twitter and Facebook are used as part of the creative interpretive process (think of a camera – turn on the flash and you are using technology in an interpretive manner as part of creativity). Rehearsals are being streamed over the internet and public screenings are being set up in other countries. A promenade performance work is being created where audiences are asked to turn on their mobile phones and photograph, tweet and share what they see. Conversations can happen – not in the theatre bar with a few people – but around the world with everyone.

Social media also opens the theatre to more people. We are transcending access needs by accessing those who can’t leave the house for reasons such as disability and time constraints. Audiences, online and in the theatre itself will be asked to donate secrets, tweet, share and comment as the durational performance is going on. And photography is strictly allowed.

By using these new opportunities of communication – instant, one-off exchanges that take less than 140 characters (or 6 seconds with my new love – Vine) – offer an alternative to staring, faceless audiences.  The In-Finite project asks people to donate secrets (how anathemic to social media!) in order that a dancer might interpret it, all amounting to a performance, streamed all over the world. Audience participation which isn’t threatening, a marriage of new technology and creative, responsive, accessible art.

For more information about the In-Finite project, take a look at these links:

Blog post - "Let's talk about the Arts and Social Media"
More about the performance
Donate your secret
Watch on UStream 
IJAD Dance Company on Facebook
IJAD Dance Company on Twitter

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