Dance in LED Tutus — It’s the Brooklyn (Ballet’s) Way
Categories: Tech

Dance in LED Tutus — It’s the Brooklyn (Ballet’s) Way

What could possibly make ballet more beautiful? For us, a techy twist brought to the classic art would have us Bravo-ing before intermission and throwing 3D printed roses on stage as soon as the curtain dropped. We’re printing out our bouquet now for the dancers over at Brooklyn Ballet who reinvented (and “Brooklyn-ized”) The Nutcracker by adding street and modern dancers wearing motion-sensing, LED-lit tutus. The only thing we’re not okay with in this scenario, is that we can’t pick up our own at their gift shop yet and join them onstage.

You’ve likely seen a revival of the Tchaikovsky ballet at some point in your life — heck, you’re probably jamming to the Sugar Plum Fairy’s theme music right now in your head, admit it! This particular production, titled “Vectors, Marys, and Snow,” focused on the Snow and Drosselmeyer 1.0 scenes. The mad makers over at BK-based hacker collective NYC Resistor worked with their waltzing neighbors to bring them into the digital age by transforming the dancers’ costumes into interactive performance pieces. Brooklyn Ballet dubbed the project Tutus & Technology: The Nutcracker Hacked and found funding for the collaboration through a successful Kickstarter campaign that ended this week.

The show’s costume designer worked with whizzes at NYC Resistor to create six snowfall tutus that feature LED lights, motion sensors and custom coded and fabricated microcontrollers. The sensor in the skirts is called an accelerometer, and is placed at the waist of the corset to react with the dancers’ movement. The more vigorous they dance, the brighter the LEDs glow. The result is a glittering snowfall effect — see it in action here.

Six young ballerinas in the performance wore sparkling LED hair accessories.

Pop-and-lock dancer Mike “Supreme” Fields wore a Pexel shirt as Drosselmeyer to make his more subtle, specific, muscle-flexing movements come alive.

The team at NYC Resistor is working on expanding this particular project and have visions of projection mapped scenery + real time visuals responsive to the wearers’ movements dancing in their heads. After all this Nutcracker hacking, they’ll continue exploring the world of interactive wearables, hoping to inspire others to mix the worlds of technology and dance. To do that, they’re offering up all the tools you need — their hardware designs and code are open source for you to use in you own projects. It’s BYOT though. (Bring Your Own Tutu…)

Have you ever seen a techy twist on an old classic you think we would dig? Have an LED-lit project to share? Do so below!

(Photos: The Creators Project)