December 30, 2022


By Kelly Ruth

While exploring art in virtual worlds it is easy to understand how visual art or sound art can be communicated through this medium. One art form that is less developed in these virtual spaces is dance. In a way it makes sense that dancers have not gravitated to virtual worlds  to express their art form. Translating human movement onto avatars requires some added technology to capture movements as data, which is not commonly accessible to dancers. However, dancing is essential to life in virtual worlds. Dj’s, live music, clubbing and dancing is a huge part of the culture in these online spaces. Additionally there are ways to add scripts to objects and avatars which could allow a dancer to make an installation with their dance running on an animated 3D model whether or not the dancer is present. I was interested in the opportunities for dancers to create work adjacent to their ephemeral practice. In my own art practice I am inter-disciplinary, and curious about learning how things work. I have become proficient in textile art, sound art and new media art throughout my career, and recognize that within my being all the disciplines come together thematically. Working in several disciplines I have seen the benefits to this intellectually and to be honest…fiscally. Having worked with dancers professionally in a support role my entire career, I think about the artform, and have often thought an interdisciplinary approach could be very fruitful. I am thinking not only philosophically but also a way for a dancer to expand their practice and tap into a wider range of opportunities throughout their career. 

As metaverse technology expands there are corners of the internet where inroads for dance in this medium are being forged. What is very exciting to me however, is that within the past couple of years developers have been working specifically on making live movement on avatars in virtual worlds possible. I see something happening that is quite embryonic and I am so very curious to see where this goes. This is the beginning of what may be taken for granted in the future. Being witness to each step of development in this journey of humans collaborating with machines is absolutely thrilling for me.


Additional notes: eryn tempest’s avatar featured in the video below, is eryn’s own creation that they uploaded into the virtual world!

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