Kristin Alexander’s 2-year-old daughter Anne loves to dance.
Alexander, the artistic director of Annex Dance Company, was inspired by her daughter’s insatiable need for movement, so she created a new work, “Origin,” that mixes dance with video projections and will be presented Sunday at the Gibbes Museum of Art as part of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
“She loves to find shape and investigate and is okay with being off-balance and catching herself,” Alexander said. “A lot of the times, she’s just doing it because she loves to move.”
Alexander videotaped her daughter dancing and used the video as inspiration for the movements in the show. She also teamed up with John Jannone, a New York artist, to create projections and music that are based on Anne’s movements.
“It ended up just being more of a suggestion, and my work went in a less literal direction,” said Jannone, who founded the graduate program in performance and interactive media arts at Brooklyn College.
The technology behind his projection involves a physics-based world that Jannone compared to the mobile game “Angry Birds.” It’s a world where things have mass and collide with one another, and Jannone wanted the sounds of those collisions to be the soundtrack for the show.
“Usually people think of making the sound and then creating the animation to it, as opposed to the other way around,” Jannone said. In this case, the animation determines the soundtrack.
Jannone’s projection comes from a computer program he designed that can function without any input from him.
Alexander, who has known Jannone for more than 20 years, used the projections and soundtrack they create to create choreography for “Origins.” She kept Anne’s movements in mind.
“More so than other times, I’ve kept going back to Anne’s phrases and tried not to fall into patterns that felt familiar,” she said.
This isn’t the first collaboration between Alexander and Jannone They have run Camp Ballibay, a fine arts retreat for children ages 8-16, for more than 20 years together in Wyalusing, Penn.
In “Origin,” the openness and exploration of children is central.
“Such a strong desire has been instilled in us to want narrative and storytelling,” Jannone said. “It’s nice when you can just appreciate shape, color and sound and let your senses experience that.”
Alexander said she likes the intricacies that results from the combination of movement and video but doesn’t want audiences to ignore the simple beginnings of the project.
“Something so raw can develop into something complex and sophisticated without losing some of its spontaneity,” she said.
Joe Allen is a Goldring Arts Journalist at Syracuse University.