Dance the distance is an artistic research project developed in partnership between the following swiss and Italian cultural associations, dance company, university labs , international theater festival and centers: Avventure in Elicottero Prodotti /Lugano, Ariella Vidach AiEP /Milano, DIDstudio/Milano, MEET Digital Culture Center , FIT Fetsival/Lugano, SUPSI/ Visual Lab/Lugano, aimed to test new forms of dance performances in virtual and augmented reality or via VR devices. It’s also a beta test to establish new formats of phygital experiences in performing arts.

. DANCE the DISTANCE is a choreographic experimentation in virtual and mixed reality, which gives life to a virtual dance company and a new format of immersive performative event, on and off line, to which the audience can participate both in presence and remotely. The project is an experimentation of new technological devices for the choreographic creation and for the presentation of virtual performances, which respond to social distancing, to the need to establish new forms of live show, of aggregation and of virtual and hybrid contact between people. In an unprecedented virtual space, the dancers, in different forms and contexts, connect with each other and dance the distance that separates them, also bringing the audience to coexist the stage space. The event is possible with all kinds of restrictive conditions: live with the audience in presence or in streaming on virtual reality platforms. Starting from a hybrid dimension, the performers will dance «in presence and remotely» the distance (the threshold) that separates them and that divides physical reality from virtual reality. The body extends its boundaries to become a space in which to immerse oneself and experience the multiplicity of the organic dimension. Without the perception of boundaries, the only thing that can be referred to are the gestures, the sensations, the emotions caused by the spatial and temporal overturning, exhilarating and unknown. Dance the distance proposes three different performative formats which are site specific, modular and “combinable” according to the needs:

performance modules

3 dancers are placed in a virtual environment. The spectators (limited in number) are equipped with head sets to follow the performance in virtual. The avatars of the 3 dancers, who are located in three different cities, dance the space generating a choreography that crosses indefinite dimensions where gestures and actions draw the environment. The hands speak, search, touch the other suspended bodies, perceive the connections. The performers/avatars intertwine paths, they leave and rejoin crossing without friction the air, they model and paint shapes and volumes, sometimes suspended in an endless space.
The spectator, lead by a minimal and precise dance, finds himself immersed in a place whose architecture is composed and erased, generated by the movement of hands to which he gives the extraordinary strength and expressiveness of bodies present only in the shiny head and torso.

3 dancers in presence and inserted in an immersive room with spectators (in presence and in limited numbers) control and process the images and sounds of the performative event in real time, through the choreographic sequences and sensors (live htc trackers). The graphic images of great effect and the position of the spectators inserted and immersed in a very engaging audiovisual scenario create in a combined and complementary way the fusion between the physical and organic part of reality (the bodies of the dancers, the spectators and the space / the room) and the digital one (projections, sounds and technological interactions).
The performance event can be broadcast in classic streaming (with 3 cameras and a video mixer).

social laboratory modules

It is a workshop that offers a group of 10-15 participants an immersive experience of about 30/40 minutes in a virtual gym, in which it will be possible to instruct and move the body / avatar through the real body, drawing on its experience and his memory. It is led by the choreographer Ariella Vidach who in addition to the role of teacher will also play the role of mediator, to provide the group with information on the functioning of the system and accompany it to discover the space created in the Mozilla Hub platform. After having invited and allowed the group to familiarize themselves with the space, the choreographer will teach a short sequence of actions which, once acquired by the participants, can become choreography and which will make their respective avatars dance. Through the repetition of the sequences, a choreographic score will be composed that will create a performative moment presented at the end of the workshop.

LIVEguidedTOUR in VR
A live guided tour through a virtual dance studio on Ars Electronica’s Mozilla Hubs: spectators wearing a virtual reality headset meet the virtual dancers and join a VR open rehearsal. Attendees can join the virtual dance studio of AiEP, visiting a gallery of interactive dance performances created by AiEP since 1997 and pose a question to the choreographer Ariella Vidach and the VR dance company.
AiEP Virtual dance studio 1
AiEP Workshop space
AiEP VaRt Gallery

All spaces are accessible from a PC or smartphone, but for optimal immersive use, the use of VR viewers is recommended.

A performative installation in VR, offers a limited number of participants in the presence – 4-6 people per session – a totally immersive experience, lasting about 15/20 minutes, within which they will be able to interact with a remote dancer to develop a contact dance in virtual form. The avatars of the participants and the performer will be able to use their hands with the same articulation and sensitivity as natural persons. Their choreographic relationship will activate an absolutely real experience in the VR context, allowing you to experience an authentic sensation of contact between bodies. Virtual Reality offers an unusual space / time condition and those who participate in it are placed at the center of a unique physical experience, which involves all the senses and in which it is possible to perceive and perceive the presence of others, experiencing a new dimension that opens up to reflections. on the limits and potential of the virtual.

All the proposals of DANCEtheDISTANCE are suitable to be realized both live, with the public in attendance, and remotely with a completely online or streaming use. During the project, a documentary video was made, a making of subtitled in English.


Direction Claudio Prati, Ariella Vidach

Choreography Ariella Vidach

Dancers Ariella Vidach, Agnese Trippa, Sofia Casprini; remotely Margherita Landi, AlessIa della Casa

VR/HR research and development MEETinetrmedialab / LCV_FABlab SUPSI / Archon VR

VR and Mozilla Hubs programming Giovanni Landi e Simone Verduci (ArchonVR Sagl) e Flavia Amato (programmazione / Unity)

Max/msp interactive programming Paolo Solcia, Riccardo Santalucia

Visual programming vvvv Sebastiano Barbieri, Francesco Luzzana

Lights and Scenography Claudio Prati

CostumesAiEP / Ariella Vidach and Claudio Prati

Coproduction Avventure in Elicottero Prodotti, Ariella Vidach AiEP / MEET/intermedialab/ Digital Culture Center / DiDstudio

In collaboration with MEET (IT) Digital Culture Center/ FIT Festival Internazionale del Teatro e della scena contemporanea – Lugano (CH) / SUPSI FABLAB-LCV di Lugano (CH)

Supported by Pro Helvetia – Fondazione svizzera per la cultura / DAC Comune di Lugano7 MiBACT Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo / Comune di Milano