PhD Directions

iDF1 2014-07-03 10.11.38 2014-07-03 09.55.58







Sketching Creativity Support Tools: Designing for Choreographic Process

Technology has historically been used as a tool to augment creative opportunities in choreographic process, and to facilitate a choreographer’s creative vision. Multiple creativity support tools have been designed to function as a ‘blank slate’ for choreography (as well as many other creative domains such as graphic design, photography and data visualization) with domain-specific features to support the artist’s existing creative practices. However these tools do not often contribute to the design of creative ideas, functioning on low levels mainly as notebooks, annotation tools and idiosyncratic empty canvases. I specifically define ’collaboration’ rather than ’tool’ to differentiate the nature of collaboration: a dynamic and iterative process with participation from both the user and the technology. Contemporary choreographic process is often collaborative, relying on interactions between the choreographer and dancers to develop and evaluate movement material through exploration on different bodies. This collaborative nature of choreography is not reflected in current creativity support tool design, yet would provide innovative opportunities for iterative development of movement material that enhances choreographic creativity. I am interested in how choreographers develop creative material collaboratively and iteratively with dancers, and how this collaborative interaction can be leveraged in the design of new features in a creativity support tool for choreography titled iDanceForms (iDF).


iDF is a creativity support tool for capturing and editing movement keyframes as a iPad application, based on the DanceForms animation software famously used by Merce Cunningham. iDF is an innovative design opportunity because it is based on a mobile platform, encouraging the integration of technology into the studio process with emerging features that incorporate higher level choreographic thinking. I will be testing concepts of collaborative choreography through iDF, working with choreographers to incite innovations in process. Two concepts will be tested that include 1) an intelligent feature for generating novel keyframes in iDF that provoke creative opportunities for the choreographer, supplying creative content that is used iteratively to support collaboration. Also 2) designing prototypes of collaborative compositional methods as higher level features for iDF.


Data will be collected using interviews, focus groups and observation. Professional choreographers will be asked to design short choreographies using iDF over several sessions and will discuss their experiences through open-ended interviews (when individual) and semi-guided focus groups (when in a company or group). Observational data will be gathered from the researcher’s observation of collaborative and creative compositional decisions and by asking the choreographer to view videos of their process and articulate their choices. The results of choreographer’s collaborative compositional methods will be found by analyzing correlated data for emergent themes. The contribution of this work situates the design and practice of collaborative choreographic systems in creativity theory to explore future design of iterative and provocative technology for supporting movement and creativity.



Carlson, K. Schiphorst, T. DiPaola, S. (2015), ‘Moving Collaborations: A Critical Inquiry Into Designing Creative Interactive Systems for Choreography’, Journal Publication. Submitted, In Review.

Carlson K, Schiphorst T, DiPaola S, 2014, “Collaborative Choreography: A Critical Inquiry into Designing Creative Interactive”, Proceedings of Intelligent Technologies for Interactive Entertainment, INTETAIN ’14, (Springer Lecture Notes Book), Vol 136, pp 46-56. DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-08189-2_6.

Fdili Alaoui, S., Carlson, K., Schiphorst, T. (2014) ‘Technological Application for Assisting Choreography: A Historical Perspective’, In Proceedings of MOCO 2014, 1st International Workshop on Movement and Computing. Paris, France. ACM Press. 8 Pages.

Carlson, Kristin, and Thecla Schiphorst. 2013. “Designing Interaction for Designers: Defamiliarization in User’s Creative Decision-Making.” In Proceedings of the 9th ACM Conference on Creativity & Cognition, 300–303. C&C ’13. New York, NY, USA: ACM.



Carlson, K. (2013) Designing Creativity Support Tools Through Constraints, Defamiliarization and Embodied Cognitive Processes. The 9th ACM Conference on Creativity and Cognition, Doctoral Consortium.

Carlson, Kristin, and Thecla Schiphorst. 2013. “Designing Interaction for Designers: Defamiliarization in User’s Creative Decision-Making.” In Proceedings of the 9th ACM Conference on Creativity & Cognition, 300–303. C&C ’13. New York, NY, USA: ACM.


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