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CoDa Dance: Using the Perception Neuron suit to create immersive dance with neuro-disabled adults

Updated: Feb 16

CoDa Dance Company has a history of making innovative dance happen in unusual places. Since 2013, CoDa have specialised in creating live dance experiences - both professional outdoor performances made with communities and delivering dance workshops as a physiotherapy tool for neurodisabled adults.

all photos: Matt Pear Photography

Artistic Director, Nikki Watson’s interest in neurology was sparked when her mum was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Since then she has been using dance to explore the emotional and social impacts of neurological conditions and disabilities and now works with an artistic team who each have direct experience with the subject.

The issue Like so many arts companies, CoDa Dance was on the verge of touring a new dance production in Spring 2020 - an immersive performance taking place inside a 12m-wide geodome with 360 projection mapping, live dancers, a musician and up to 40 audience members up close and personal. Then lockdowns struck.

Determined to find a way to still share this unique performance, Nikki and her visual artist, Bertie Sampson, began to experiment with virtual reality and quickly became drawn to using motion capture.

CoDa got approval from their funder to purchase a mocap suit on a Monday and immediately contacted T3D with an urgent request - with performer’s workplace protocols fluctuating rapidly in response to lockdowns, they wanted to capture that same week.

The solution Target3D made it happen, ordering the Perception Neuron Studio Suit and arranging express delivery from Noitom in the US so that it was with CoDa in the studio for the Friday morning shoot.

What makes this particular suit a good choice for dancers is the accuracy in which it captures full body movement - recording fast and dynamic motion. The minimal set up is also really important, especially for those tight on time and new to mocap.

Nikki explains “The Target3D Support Team called us to explain everything from the set up to the software, I was amazed it was all part of the service. I thought it would take half a day to get it up and running, but we popped open the box (I was like a kid on Christmas morning!) and it took us less than one hour to read the start up guides, plug everything in, get the suit on and get it connected to Notch. We thought we’d done something wrong - that it couldn’t possibly be that easy and instant!”

The result

The future

“This is the just first step for us in using the Noitom suit. We’ll be using it to create a virtual reality dance performance that will tour outdoor arts festivals. People will be able to step inside an individual hanging dome - a non-contact deconstructed VR headset - to be surrounded by 360 video and sound to watch a virtual dancer performing in the suit.

“We’re also excited to start using the suit with our neurodisabled participants in hospitals. Most of them have very limited (some almost no) movement in their limbs. By using the gloves of the suit, we’ll be able to visually amplify even the smallest motion in their fingers, which will have a big impact. Giving that kind of instantaneous visual feedback is likely to be beneficial for their physio rehab, as well as meaning they can be part of the creation process for the virtual reality dance work.

“What started out as a temporary solution has turned into an exciting new direction for our whole company.”

Find out more about CoDa Dance Company’s virtual reality dance performance.

Interested in moving your arts project to the virtual world? Target3D, the home of motion capture, will guide you through from concept to delivery. Start the conversation now.



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