A tap of a button. Then voilà! A new dance premieres. User becomes choreographer. Do you hear the applause?
“Wow! I feel like a choreographer!” is perhaps the best compliment that could be accorded “Passe-Partout,” the fourth–and newest–dance app created by the 2wice Arts Foundation, and just released on iTunes.
The app’s eight dances were created by New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck, marking a first-time adventure for the rapidly rising 26-year old choreographer and for his screen dancing partner, City Ballet principal Daniel Ulbricht.
French for “passes through all,” “Passe-Partout” possesses un tour de passe-passe (a sleight of hand) all its own. Five buttons, each matching the color of the costumes of the dance, edge the left side of the glowing white screen (consider it also, stage right.) The buttons invite the user to play with the dances and layer up to five of them at will, which is to say that Ulbricht and Peck can appear as soloists, in duet, trio, quartet, and on and on. Users can multiply their images and movement until the choreography becomes choral in its constantly changing designs.
As new dances are added, the dancers’ bodies grow ghostlike so that all of the layers can be seen simultaneously through each other. The multiplication of layers can also be created by tipping the iPad, so that it works in the way of a gyroscope. A total of 13,440 unique ballets are possible. User masterpieces can be shared instantly with potential fans through Facebook and email.
The app also brings the viewing experience close up and personal; proximity of the dancers onscreen allow users to catch facial expressions not visible in a theatrical situation, as well as the turn of an ankle, the flick of the finger, the slow fall of a foot, or the lift out of the hips before a jump, it’s all there to be watched and wondered at.
2wice Arts Foundation released its first app in July 2011. Comprised of selected photographs of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company that had appeared in four special Cunningham-dedicated print issues of 2wice over the past decade, the app was designed to be its own Cunningham Event. Its photographs morph image into image, like a dance. The viewer is able to determine the speed of the changing images. Available free of charge on the App Store, the app also includes videos of former Cunningham dancers Jonah Bokaer and Holley Farmer, dancing short selections of Cunningham’s work. To download the Merce Cunningham Event App for the iPad and for an overview of its contents, go to http://www.2wice.org
Advances in technology made possible the greater sophistication of “Fifth Wall,” 2wice’s second app, which was released in June 2012. With choreographer/dancer Jonah Bokaer performing inside a specially created box scaled to the dimensions of the iPad screen, the dance could be reframed in multiple ways by its viewer, giving the illusion of multiple dances taking place simultaneously, or one dance with multiple points of view. Viewers can shift the sequence of events and eliminate or add images. Another jump in technology allowed “DOT DOT DOT” to incorporate scenic changes and the multiplication of the same image in different spaces. ‘DOT DOT DOT’ was nominated for the prestigious People’s Design Award. “Passe-Partout,” “Fifth Wall” and “DOT DOT DOT” are available through the App Store for the iPad for $0.99.
Patsy Tarr is the Founder and President of the 2wice Arts Foundation. She currently serves as the Producer of all 2wice Apps. Past affiliations: Board member of the Nikolais/Louis Foundation, David Gordon Pickup Company, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Dance Theater Workshop, Founder and President Dance Ink Foundation, Cunningham Dance Foundation, The Film Society of Lincoln Center. Current affiliations: Vice Chair Chez Bushwick, Trustee, Fondazione Bogliasco, Trustee, Central Park Conservancy.
Abbott Miller is a designer and art director, and a partner in the international design studio Pentagram. He has served as Editor and Art Director of 2wice _since its inception, collaborating with leading choreographers and photographers on this unique performing and visual arts publication. Prior to 2wice he served as designer of the award-winning quarterly Dance Ink. A retrospective of his design work for 2wice and Dance Ink was held at the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 2010. He studied at the Cooper Union in New York and later founded the multidisciplinary studio Design/ Writing/Research. Abbott has received numerous honors, including medals from the Society for Publication Designers and three nominations for National Magazine Awards. His work and critical writing has appeared in Eye, Print, I.D. and other publications, and he is the co-author of four books, including the classic Design/Writing/Research: Writing on Graphic Design. A survey of his design work, Abbott Miller: Design and Content, is published by Princeton Architectural Press.
Ben Louis Nicholas
Ben Louis Nicholas is a filmmaker based in NYC. He studied at NYU’s Tisch Film School with a concentration in directing and cinematography. His work with 2wice Arts Foundation and Pentagram began in 2011 with the Merce Cunningham Event iPad app. In 2012, he collaborated with the same team and international choreographer Jonah Bokaer toward the making of their second app Fifth Wall. Outside of iPad apps, Ben has directed numerous commercials and music videos. He’s also co-founder of The New Heroes, an art zine he publishes with his brother Thomas Nicholas.
Justin Peck has been hailed as an important new voice in 21st-century choreography. He is currently a soloist dancer and choreographer with the New York City Ballet. Peck, originally from San Diego, California, moved to New York at the age of 15 to attend the School of American Ballet. In 2006, he was invited by ballet Master-in-Chief Peter Martins to become a member of the New York City Ballet.
Since joining New York City Ballet, Peck has danced extensive repertoire, including principal roles in George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, The Firebird, Liebeslieder Walzer, Tschaikovsky Suite #3, La Sonnambula, The Four Temperaments, Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story, The Cage, I’m Old Fashioned, Glass Pieces, NY Export: Opus Jazz, Ives Songs; Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH; Benjamin Millepied’s Plainspoken and Why am I not Where you Are; Peter Martins’ Fearful Symmetries, Thou Swell, Waltz Project, Romeo and Juliet; and Christopher Wheeldon’s Scenes De Ballet and Estancia.
Peck had his choreographic debut in 2009, and has been fervently creating since then. He has been commissioned by New York City Ballet, the New Choreographic Institute, the School of American Ballet, the Miami City Ballet, the New World Symphony, L.A. Dance Project, NY Fall For Dance, the Nantucket Atheneum Dance Festival, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Guggenheim Museum, and more. He has collaborated with the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Prabal Gurung, Sterling Ruby and Karl Jensen. His 2014 Ballet, Everywhere We Go, marks his sixth commission from the New York City Ballet.
In July 2011, Peter Martins appointed Peck as the first active Choreographer-in-Residency of the New York Choreographic Institute for the 2011-2012 season.
Daniel Ulbricht was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and began his dance training at the age of 11. At age 16, Ulbricht was invited by the School of American Ballet (SAB), the official school of New York City Ballet, to continue his training. As a student at SAB, Ulbricht performed with New York City Ballet as a Jester in Peter Martins’ Sleeping Beauty. In 2000, he became an apprentice with New York City Ballet and in 2001 he joined the company as a member of the corps de ballet.
In 2005, Ulbricht was promoted to the rank of soloist and, in 2007, principal dancer. During his time there, he danced featured roles in a number of Balanchine, Robbins, Martins, and Wheeldon ballets including George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, Tarantella, Stars and Stripes, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mozartiana, Nutcracker, Symphony in 3, The Steadfast Tin Soldier; Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free, Interplay, Four Seasons; and Peter Martins’ Jeu de Cartes, Hallelujah Junction, Eight More, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo + Juliet, among many others. Ulbricht also danced Tarantella at the 2004 Kennedy Center Honors to celebrate the Balanchine Centenary. He has also performed at a number of national and international festivals and galas. Ulbricht is a guest teacher at the School of American Ballet, Ballet Academy East, as well as teaching at a number of well-known national dance schools, private schools, and universities throughout the United States. Ulbricht is currently the Artistic Advisor of Manhattan Youth Ballet. Ulbricht is also the Artistic Director of New York State Summer School for the Arts in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Mr. Ulbricht is the founder and director of “Stars of American Ballet,” a touring group focusing on art, education and outreach.