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Real-time light show dances with acrobat

As an acrobat performs on her harness, a stunning light show complements her dance in real-time, responding to sound and movement.

Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

As the dancer, suspended from a harness in the middle of the stage, stretches her limbs, a backdrop of light matches her form, vibrating in time to the beat of the music. The dancer -- Elena Annovi -- and the music are not, however, reacting to a pre-recorded video; rather, the light show is responding Annovi's movements and the music's beats -- in real time.

This is Ljós, a performance piece crafted by Italian creative studio Fuse -- a showcase of interaction between light, sound and the human body.

"In 2011 we created our first live media performance with a dancer, N4.0; the dancer we worked with was Simon Courchel," Fuse co-founder Mattia Carretti told CNET. "After this experience we decided to explore the interaction with aerial acrobatics movements and we started this experience with the dancer and Choreographer Elena Annovi."

To create the effect, a Kinect camera observes Annovi's movements as she dances in the air suspended from a harness; this information is fed back into a program, which also responds to the beats of the music to create a simultaneous fusion between all three, projected against the back wall. It was not, Carretti said, easy to accomplish.

"To program the software that generates Ljós was quite difficult, we needed 400 hours for 16 minutes of show," he said. "We dedicate much time to the interaction design with sounds, movements and visual, and the full interconnection with all the elements is our aim."

The effect, however, is striking -- a seamless combination of technology and dance.

"The statement we are trying to make with Ljós is to mix different languages to create an immersive performance that is able to bring the viewer in a different like a beautiful dream," Carretti said.

Ljós premiered at the Festival della Fiaba (Festival of the Fairy Tale) in Modena earlier this month, and will be performed later this year, although Fuse does not yet have concrete dates. You can follow along the Fuse Facebook and Twitter pages for updates.