Paint What You Dance, While You Dance

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For decades, technology has been making inroads into various facets of our lives. Of them, one of the most astounding applications has been in artistic domains like dance. Be it the primeval use of video recording by dancers or the latest use of virtual reality for “Virtual Dancing” wherein a blend of human motion and animation is created by choreographers, technology and dance have waltzed around hand in hand for quite some time now.

“E-Traces” turns a page in this book by bringing forth a new dimension to this tango. If you appreciate ballet you would agree that keeping an eye on a ballerina’s feet is no less than following a butterfly as it wings its way around flower to flower. In future, when you watch a ballerina glide across the floor you don’t have to just gawk at her nimble foot movements. You can simultaneously track those movements on a screen as the dancer whirls around and gauge how she drags her feet to trace a perfect circle or goes round and round to create loops while her body weight rests on her toes. All this is possible because of Lesia Turbat’s E-Traces wherein she has wired a pair of ballet shoes and fit them with pressure sensors that detect how the feet hit the floor. A Lilypad Arduino chip processes the data and provides calligraphic output on a screen.

Lilypad Arduino Chips and its circuit design that is fit into the ballet shoes (Sources: &

Lilypad Arduino Chips and its circuit design that is fit into the ballet shoes. (Sources: &

 The dancers’ movements are captured, transformed into visual sensations and replicated on a screen. The output looks like the strokes of a painter’s brush. Dancers can use this data to rectify their mistakes, if any, and viewers enjoying a dance can marvel at the finesse with which the dancers execute the steps. Application of E-Traces can extend to projecting the calligraphy obtained from ballet shoes on a screen in synchronization with the dance. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a medium of painting while dancing in times to come.

Ballerina’s movements on the floor are replicated on a Screen (Source:

Cool as the idea may sound, it might take some time to be commercially viable and universally acceptable. E-Traces is Turbat’s final year project at ELISAVA design school in Barcelona. She believes that E-Traces could very soon find application in other dance forms as well. However, iHoweverHwt might be a while before professional ballet dancers and teachers adopt ballet shoes customized by Turbat. Ballet is an archetypal dance form and its connoisseurs boast of its heritage. It will be interesting to see if they agree to adopt E-Traces as a minor tweak in the presentation of ballet or a major modification to grab more eyeballs.

(Featured image source:

Ambuj Srivastava
Ambuj Srivastava

Armed with a pen and paper, Ambuj can spend hours writing about anything and everything. A compulsive patent decoder, he can shred technology to its smallest bit as easily as he can translate his findings into a blog.

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