Zannah Doan – Pavilion Dance South West – Interview Snippet

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Zannah Doan

The producer talks about the new digital dance app, DanceTag


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WORDS: SAMUEL FRYDATE: SUNDAY 01 DECEMBER 2013

Having run a number of dance projects for young people, Zannah Doan is part of the team that brings us DanceTag. Samuel Fry asks her about this new project.

 

 

You are currently developing a location based gaming app called DanceTag. How would you describe this?

DanceTag is a dance game which invites people to enjoy creating 15 second films of themselves and their friends dancing in all sorts of locations. It is fun. It is social. You have to be with at least 1 other person to use it. We are initially aiming it at the 15-30 market and can see that there could be all sorts of applications of it in markets ranging from health and wellbeing and lifestyle to the training of young dancers and the sharing of choreographic phrases by dancers.

Where did the idea come from?

DanceTag evolved from watching site specific professional dance pieces and thinking about how we could enable everyone, whether urban/rural, experienced/novice dancers, to dance and share their dance with others. To feel connected to others through dance. In Arts Council’s terminology – to extend our reach to enable more people to dance. We are also researching if we can take DanceTaggers on a journey to attend dance class or performances or workshops. There is a supporting website which includes links to Pavilion Dance South West and our network of dance partners and opportunities.

The project involves a number of different organisations. How did you all come together?

We wanted to work with technology partners in the region and identified a couple of Bristol based companies as potential partners. We met and spent a long time with both of them discussing DanceTag and what it might be and whether our aspirations were achievable. We chose Mobile Pie because of their games background and fundamentally we wanted this to work as a game, as a piece of entertainment. We found our University of West of England research partner by approaching the Digital Cultures Research Centre through the Pervasive Media Studio. They listened to our proposal and matched us with a researcher they thought had interests which aligned with ours.

The app involves dance battles across different territories. Can you explain how the game works?

DanceTag is a new game anyone with a smartphone can play. You can download the app and tag interesting places by recording 15 seconds of you and your friends dancing and share your film with others. You can play just for fun or you can decide to play competitively and challenge other DanceTaggers, or be challenged by someone dancing in a similar location anywhere in the world. You win points if your film is rated higher by the DanceTag community. You can compete for incentives and rewards and visit the website for news, comments and links to the dance industry.

When are you hoping to launch this?

We will be available from Christmas on IOS and Android. In January/February 14 we’ll complete our Digital R&D programme. We’re searching now for investment to keep it going for another year so that we have time to collect more information and learn more about our players, who they are, how they play, where they play. I am sure that we’re onto an interesting concept here – it may not be quite what we think, but there is something fabulous in it. I’m determined to find a way to deepen and develop our understanding of the potential of this kind of app and whether we can hold onto it in the arts sector.

How do you see dance companies engaging with this in the future?

Initially we’re promoting it to our regional dance partners network – inviting them to use it in their youth dance companies work, use it as a potential way of exploring and putting local places on the map through dance – perhaps linked to festivals. We’ll encourage dancers to promote characterful playful snippets of dance as a new promotion opportunity. Dancers can try out choreographic phrases – share them with other dancers/choreographers and potentially find ways to connect them together to create new dance pieces. We have links with dance producers in other countries, such as Finland, and they will begin to play with it in the new year and see how it works for them.

 

DanceTag is supported by Nesta, Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the Digital R&D fund for the arts.

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