EmViz: Expressing Movement Qualities

FlowFlow was an improvised dance performance at the User in Flux workshop at the 2011 ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Movement qualities are extracted in real time from the performer’s body using EffortDetect. EffortDetect is a real-time machine-learning system that applies Laban Movement Analysis, a rigorous framework for analyzing the human movement, to extract movement qualities from a moving body in the form of Laban Basic Efforts. It produces a dynamic stream of Laban Basic Effort qualities in real time. We extended the use of EffortDetect by designing a visualization system that uses movement quality parameters to generate an abstract visualization for use in dance performance. [Program PDF]


Subyen, P., Maranan, D., Carlson, K., Schiphorst, T., Pasquier, P. ‘Flow: Expressing Movement Quality’, CHI 2011 Workshop: The user in flux: bringing HCI and digital arts together to interrogate shifting roles in interactive media, Vancouver, BC, Canada, May 2011.




Contemporary dance is an experiential and time based art form with few available analysis techniques. Our design facilitates structural analysis of dance performance by codifying and plotting expert viewer information. ActionPlot is then useful to experts familiar with choreographic strategies and illustrates three levels; viewing for interpretation or meaning, for structural or performative information or for detailed movement information. Plotted elements include the number of performers, the performer’s attention and intention, the amount of effort used, tempo of the effort, the balance of the movement within the body and the time the action is performed. This process conveys information about the viewing experience in context, allowing the user to see structural and performative patterns, similarities and differences while comparing between two works. We detail our motivation, design decisions, implementation and a qualitative evaluation for the presented system.

Carlson, K., Schiphorst, T., & Shaw, C. (2011). ActionPlot: A Visualization Tool for Contemporary Dance Analysis. Presented at the In Proceedings of Computational Aesthetic 2011 Eurographics Workshop on Computational Aesthetics in Graphics, Visualization and Imaging, Cae’11, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.