Cutting-edge dance/theater collaboration occurs between UC Santa Cruz and New York University

Lubricious Transfer-an ambitious dance experiment in live, transcontinental collaboration using the Internet-was broadcast simultaneously last week to audiences at UC Santa Cruz's Experimental Theater and New York University's Frederick Loewe Theater.

The April 15 and 16 performances were the culmination of a distance arts education project undertaken by an interdisciplinary mix of faculty, students, and staff at both universities. The result was an interactive, real-time performance where UC Santa Cruz dancers performed in front of three "liquid screens" upon which live images of the New York University dancers were simultaneously projected.

The project was conceived by new UC Santa Cruz assistant theater arts professor Ted Warburton and carried out in his movement research class last quarter. UC Santa Cruz's technical staff provided the expertise and instruction that eventually enabled students to run all of the technical aspects of the performances.

"I believe this is the first course in the U.S. to offer students both the opportunity to perform and to acquire the technical knowledge necessary to produce this type of event," noted Warburton. "We had both groups of performers on opposite sides of the country working together-interconnected and interdependent-using advanced telecommunications for artistic collaborative purposes."

Warburton has danced professionally with American Ballet Theatre and holds a doctoral degree in psychology from Harvard, as well as a master's in technology. He came to UC Santa Cruz last summer from New York University where he served as the director of its dance program. As a result, he invited Ben Munisteri, an award-winning choreographer who recently decided to attend graduate school at NYU, to collaborate from New York. Together, they set up a series of video-conferencing sessions to help create the event.

"There is a strong research component to this project," added Warburton. "We're interested in how students' perceptions of technology change and whether the technology is inhibiting or enabling creativity."

"There is not much research on distance education and zero research on arts distance education," he noted. "This is a new genre of art, and we are doing creative research pushing the boundaries of the dance discipline."