A bit more than one century ago, music left the place where the sound was pronounced from. (Music and dance were created and performed together.) Now, the music is moving further away. It is transportable and more especially, it moves and glows in the dark – it's cute! Kawaii!
What if the ballerinas played music while dancing together? And what if each ballerina played her own part of the music while performing her part of the choreography?
Rolly is the compact and moving audio player that makes this dream come true. All Rolly have the same shape. Oval. They have nothing to distinguish one from another. And yet, ten Rolly play while moving and the performance becomes the ballet with no human. Of course, Rolly are machines, but you will forget it. You feel music and motion. “Le petit Ballet des Rolly” unifies music and motion.
Originally, dance and music were undivided
Rolly―if you merely assume it a stereo system which is compact and portable, you will never fully understand the real delight of this enjoyable appliance. It plays loaded music. No switch button or dial can be found on it. You can change volume by twisting the stereo itself, and then it automatically restores its original position. What is important is its movement, its shape. If you just want to play music, you can connect speakers to your i-pod or you can put them on your PC, but Rolly is something different. First of all, it has the shape of an egg. Mmm… it surely looks like an egg, you might think. But once you actually see how it spins around and how it moves speakers just like arms, you would definitely change your attitude. It is kawaii, cute above all. Of course, not all the people would feel it so, but its inanimate awkwardness and toy playfulness will make you feel familiar with this equipment. Moreover, it emits two narrow lights that change in various ways. It spins round thrusting out the arms, and the light radiates with music. Certain types of stereo have illuminant function as such, but with the movement of the stereo itself, we can no longer perceive it as a mere stereo or playback equipment, but as something quite different.
As individual Rolly are not connected to each other, they won’t move simultaneously. If you wish to move them concurrently, you must turn them on at the same time. This is quite inconvenient, but the intention of our project is to regard these awkward equipments as individuals with respective personalities and make them dance ballet in group. Rolly is not professional as to movements; its purpose is not to demonstrate movements. Its primary duty is to play music. Movements and illumination are only additional functions. By employing this disadvantage, ballet will be performed. Rolly is originally good at hip hop as it depends so much on digital data, but we planned to let it try ballet, which requires suave movements. We didn’t wish it to exhibit pet skills, but rather expect it to challenge something new.
Here we have come to face with some problems; for example, how do we switch on ten Rollys simultaneously in order to make them perform corps de ballet; how do we assign and load each part of music to individual Rolly; how can we choreograph smooth ballet movements; what stage devices are needed in order that the audience can observe Rolly’s performance whose size is equivalent to an egg.
Eventually, project team was set up to realize this ballet performance by Rolly. We also had another intention in our mind that team members who hold some kind of motivation respectively should aim to attain a single goal together, rather than assuming this project to be a job.
Member A, who has experience in ballet and jazz dance and is also well versed in computers; member B, who is still student but has been playing instructional role in ballet school; member C, a specialist on internet who happened to come from France on vacation. These members will choreograph movements such as pirouette (rotation) or pique (standing on tiptoe) to Rolly, making use of their corporal experiences. Rolly’s steps illustrated with computer diagram are also cute and very much amusing.
Some people might wish to dance by themselves after when they saw Rolly doing ballet. While choreographing, I sometimes get confused whether these movements originated in my mind or they were encouraged by the very existence of Rolly. How weird what Japanese people think…. Project members have respective thought in their own mind but those different ideas will be combined and led into one. That’s Rolly’s ballet.
The stage is not so large, as Rolly is as big as an egg. However, we have tried to think of every tactic to make use of this very limited size: reflections of Rolly’s changing light, what image will emerge out of them, what material should be chosen for stage floor to realize smooth movements, how to manipulate the lighting, etc. What we are aiming at is not a phenomenon that robots are moving; we want the audience to feel something further more. This is not a mere experiment. Something “different/alternative” must be conjured up in your mind as you see it. Dance and music both have such quality. Humans move. Sounds are made out of instruments. Those are mere physical phenomena. When they brought about something more within us, dance and music could be an entertainment or an art. Dance and music are important as they can provoke our feelings and emotions. All our members find some meaning in the possibility of being able to share passion and motivation in working together to handle machines, robots.
Moving concurrently, ten Rollys would create “a place” where music flows. Each Rolly plays its own part just like musicians. According to their movements, the space will be widened. A place where music will be formed also change. Today, dance and music are thought to be two different genres. Dancer and musician tend to be given different part. However, their roles used to be undivided. Rolly’s ballet indicates the overall relation between dance and music which has been lost. With this amusing equipment Rolly, we might be able to understand why people are so much fascinated by dance and music. It would also allow us to perceive consciousness of space, place and time as music is played.