BollySpace: An Interactive Dance Technology Project
heating it up @ 3:30
Media in Transition 2: globalization and convergence
May 10-12, 2002
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Conceived and directed by Zhan Li, Aswin Punathambekar, Sangita Shresthova, CMS graduate students
(funded in part by the Council for the Arts at MIT)
‘BollySpace’ melds Indian film traditions with digital media
Christina Jensen, Music and Theater Arts
May 8, 2002
Three graduate students from the Comparative Media Studies Program have been suffering from sleepless nights lately, but not because of finals.
Aswin Punathambekar, Zhan Li and Sangita Shresthova are the creators of “BollySpace: An Interactive Dance Technology Project,” and founders of the MIT South Asian Interactive Dance Technology Group, which seeks to bridge MIT’s vibrant South Asian arts community with innovative technologists as a long-term project.
The students began their collaboration in January, and in March received a grant from the MIT Council for the Arts to finance “BollySpace.” Since then, they’ve been working feverishly on the project, which will be presented May 11 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Wong Auditorium, in conjunction with the Media-in-Transition Conference on Globalization and Convergence.
“BollySpace” is based on the Bollywood genre of film–Indian movies that feature large segments of song and dance. Bollywood films have become part of everyday life in South Asia and among diasporic South Asian communities. Song and dance routines from the films have been adopted as part of communal events such as weddings and festivals.
“BollySpace” uses music and themes from film with six live dancers who interact with digital images projected on a screen. According to the creators, this will be the first time this type of interactive dance has been paired with elements from non-Western popular culture.
“‘BollySpace’ is a collaborative, performative student project that explores the cultural significance [of Bollywood] in increasingly global and convergent media environments,” said Punathambekar, Li and Shresthova.
Although Punathambekar did not want to reveal too much about the performance, he described it as a multimedia spectacle based on the theme of love in Bollywood films. “The technology being developed will give people a chance to explore their [Bollywood] fantasies in a digital space,” he said.
Punathambekar, who is from India, has extensive knowledge and experience with Bollywood films. Li has expertise in game design, and Shresthova, who is Nepalese and Czech, has studied classical Indian dance, as well as modern and contemporary dance techniques and choreography. Punathambekar said that each of the creators brought unique skills and interests to make “BollySpace” complete.