Dancers collaborate in Google award winning project

Abbey Dance 4
Abbey Dance 4

The selected Dancers (now both former and current pupils); Aisling O’Keeffe, Beth Hill, Cara Goodman, Lucy Everist, Sarah Lovell, Emily Atkins and Kate Riches, ably supported by a young tech team consisting of Battle Abbey Pupils Bertie Young and Finn Acuna, performed for 6 hours while filmed from a variety of angles by Director Oliver Mochizuki and team.

The day was completed with vox pop style interviews with the girls along with staff Mrs Usher, Mrs Buckland and Mr Dennett.

Google RISE Awards are grants for organizations across the globe that both promote Computer Science education and run initiatives that reach girls, underrepresented minorities, and students facing socio-economic barriers under age 18. It also aims to involve students in the creation of new technology rather than just being consumers.

Genevieve Smith-Nunes, readysaltedcode CIC, the project producer, won both Arts Council England, Grants for the Arts and Google funding for her project which was one of only 40 selected from 6,000 projects globally, and one of only 4 UK projects selected.

Genevieve’s project ‘The Art of Computer Science’ is a “dance meets data” visualisation project which aims to reduce people’s fear of the subject, specifically to engage students in computer science.

The engagement comes from dance choreography, capturing data from the dancers using wearable technology and smartphones, amongst other methods, plotting the dancer’s movements. The ultimate goal of the project being to remove barriers to Computer Science and present Computer Science theory in an accessible and non-threatening way.

Battle Abbey School’s Fiona and Phil Usher met Genevieve at a technology and business show hosted by Battle Abbey School which led to Genevieve auditioning the schools twenty female dancers on site at the school, eventually coming up with a shortlist of seven.

The shoot was the latest chapter in a line of high profile performances with Genevieve Nunes-Smith that started with many gruelling rehearsals over the summer with a professional choreographer and tech team.

The 25th September saw the girls perform a first version of the piece at the Brighton Dome as part of the Brighton Digital Festival to a packed audience including representatives from Google and the Arts Council. The piece was very physically demanding but the dancers maintained high performance standards throughout.

Paul Golz, the choreographer, said: “It has been a pleasure to work with the girls form Battle Abbey School. They have a very high work ethic, that of professional dancers, and they all performed brilliantly on the night”.

The Battle Abbey dancers then debuted the full Google Dance Project ‘arrastre’ at the V&A Museum on Saturday 11th October 2014, as part of Digital Design Weekend. The dancers rehearsed and performed all day in a live workshop demonstrating the wearable technology that had been incorporated into their costumes.

The girls wore LED head dresses, motion sensored lights and pressure pads in their shoes, all used to create a live projection behind them as they performed the 25 minute piece.

The girls also performed the piece at the Amex Stadium in Brighton on November 11 as part of a ‘Girls in Tech’ event.

Mrs Buckland said: “What a fantastic opportunity for our students. They have worked so hard and their efforts have really paid off, I am very proud of them…..and this is only the start.”

Oliver Mochizuki said: “The performers were wonderful and the shoot was a real team effort with Battle Abbey School staff, with Charlotte Buckland and James Dennett being incredibly helpful and enabling us to get the footage we needed of this exciting project”.