Dancing with holograms

Audiences watched holograms come to life on stage and interact with dancers in a first-of-its-kind performance at Case Western Reserve University that integrated the Microsoft HoloLens.

What if as dancers moved across a stage, their movements could be translated into images that audiences could actually see? What if they could dance through surreal spaces and experiences, instead of just a stage, that were visible in real life—and in real-time?

This was the vision behind Imagined Odyssey, a first-of-its-kind dance piece directed by Gary Galbraith at Case Western Reserve University that invited 80 audience members to don a Microsoft HoloLens headset each night and watch as dancers interacted with holograms onstage. Though the dancers couldn’t see the holographic content, it mirrored and matched their movement, creating an interplay that brought together the physical and digital world.

As they move around, they create this whirlwind of activity, it’s like someone can pull a tornado out of the earth.

- Gary Galbraith, describing the visuals

Though Case Western has been using HoloLens technology since 2014, Imagined Odyssey broke ground across disciplines by networking HoloLens headsets on such a large scale to connect participants to an ‘electronic brain’ that allowed them to see the presentation from their own unique vantage points. It showcased the technology’s power to transform not only the sciences, but the way people experience the arts as well.

“This experience will reinforce the idea that we don’t want to watch dance on our telephones,” says Karen Potter, Chair of Case Western’s Department of Dance. “Come to the theater. Be engaged with the people all around you.”

Learn more about Imagined Odyssey and how Case Western Reserve University is using HoloLens technology 

Dancer paused behind a floating holographic orb
Two dancers interact with a hologram on stage