KNOTATION : supporting dance documentation

KNOTATION : supporting dance documentation

Research Project

Research in the context of the PhD of Marianela Ciolfi Felice supervised by Wendy E. Mackay and Sarah Fdili Alaoui

Choreographers rarely have access to interactive tools that are designed specifically to support their creative process. In order to design for such a technology, we interviewed six contemporary choreographers about their creative practice. We found that even though each process is unique, choreographers represent their ideas by applying a set of operations onto choreographic objects. Throughout different creative phases, choreographers compose by shifting among various degrees of specificity and vary their focal points from dancers to stage, to interaction, to the whole piece. Based on our findings, we present a framework for articulating the higher-level patterns that emerge from these complex and idiosyncratic processes. We then articulate the resulting implications for the design of interactive tools to support the choreographic practice.

We designed Knotation, a mobile pen-based tool that lets choreographers sketch their own representations of choreographic ideas and render them interactive. We explored Knotation as a technology probe to support the contrasting practices of three professional choreographers. We revised Knotation based on their input, and ran a structured observation study with six professional choreographers. Knotation easily supported both dance-then-record and record-then-dance strategies. Participants used and appropriated Knotation’s advanced features, including the combination of interactive timelines and floorplan diagrams, to represent and explore complex choreographic structures.


Marianela Ciolfi Felice, Sarah Fdili Alaoui, Wendy E. Mackay, “How Do Choreographers Craft Dance: Designing for a Choreographer-Technology Partnership”, In Proceedings of the International Conference on Movement and Computing (MOCO), Thessaloniki, 2016. MOCO2016-Ciolfietal

Marianela Ciolfi Felice, Sarah Fdili Alaoui, Wendy E. Mackay, “Knotation: Exploring and Documenting Choreographic Processes”, In Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), Montreal, 2018.