Behind the Scenes: Journal of Theatre Production Practice

Document Type



Within Australian live performance, there is a rising number of works relying on digital media technologies to shape their scenographic environments. Situated in this field of digital performance, this paper examines the relationship between two subsets of digital scenography and dance: interactive digital technologies and improvisational choreography. While there are a number of perspectives that consider the role and impact of digital technologies within this specific field, many focus on the dancer or choreographer rather than the designer/technologist. The concept of symbiosis offers an alternative framework to understand the relationship between interactive digital technologies and improvisational choreography, and has potential to provide agency to the designer/technologist within the collaborative process. Symbiosis is understood as a mutually beneficial relationship between two separate and different systems that come together to achieve a shared goal. While the concept of symbiosis appears in some existing discussions in this field, critics have yet to identify specific points of symbiosis between the two forms. Drawing on a critical examination of existing theory and reflection on practice arising from two creative developments, three points of symbiosis are proposed here: open/closed scores and open/closed systems, real-time interactivity and composition, and technology as performance. The paper offers symbiosis as a way to reconsider the relationship between technology and dance, as it shifts the role of technology from merely an addition to the performance to that of mutual co-creator, and affords the designer/technologist a greater sense of agency in their practice.