A Dancer Among Us

Don Herbison-Evans ,   donherbisonevans@yahoo.com
Technical Report TR238 (1984), updated 14 October 2003, 28 April 2015
Basser Department of Computer Science (now School of Information Technologies)
University of Sydney, Australia

Merrilee showing Don (the one with the beard) a little dancing


The dancer and choreologist, Merrilee Macourt, spent two months in the Basser Department of Computer Science, supported by a grant from the Australia Council. Her project was to evaluate the computer software developed in the department for computer assistance to dance.

The report summarises the current status of international work in this field.

The main system that Merrilee used was NUDES, as implemented on the department's DEC VACX 11/780 under UNIX.

Although totally inexperienced in the use of computers, she became familiar with the UNIX operating system and its editor "em", with only a few hours of practice.

Initially she spent a period simulating the basic human movements of a dancer at ballet class. In the latter half of her sojourn, she designed a transcription of the female solo waltz from Les Sylphides.

Subsequently, this design was converted into a full transliteration, which was then run to produce a 16 mm. film using the animation equipment in the the department.

Her experiences showed a number of areas of research as well as extensions and modifications that need to be made to the system before it would be satisfactory for use by professional dancers.