The National Film Board of Canada’s Norman McLaren composed a ballet film “Pas de deux” in 1968.  McLaren’s iconic film “Pas de deux” for me, echoes resemblances of “Serpentine Dances” from the 1890’s, marking the conception of moving image and experimentation with dance.  Norman McLaren created a moving-image effect through elaborate film post-production optical printing; where dancers are dancing with trails and traces of themselves.

View National Film Board video here.

I see McLaren’s time tracings as having iconic impact on future works such as “Ghostcatching” (1999). This is an early example of Motion Capture by choreographer Bill T. Jones featuring the dancing subject again as generating trails resembling drawn, chalk strokes in 3D space.

When these historic pieces were composed, they pioneered post-production techniques which in some cases now, can be accessed more readily, in some instances on our smartphones.

New Zealand’s Daniel Belton and The Good Company Arts team are presently exhibiting “Astrolabe” (2019/2020), internationally. This dance and multimedia project has been created for VR and expanded cinematic exhibition spaces.

View video here.

Belton’s work (2019/2020) speaks to me of the influences that pioneers in moving image, such as Canada’s Norman McLaren hold. Moving image is embedded in sketching, drawing, tracing… enhanced through optical printing, motion capture and virtual reality. Historically and in contemporary works, these digital technologies continue to expose the impactful compatibility of dance and moving image experimentation.


Jennifer Nikolai (PhD) is an Edmonton-born contemporary dancer, choreographic researcher and lecturer at AUT University, Auckland New Zealand. Jennifer’s playfulness engages digital recording devices, motion capture technologies, virtual reality and animation. Jennifer can be found with camera-in-hand, between her country of origin and her country of residency.