Technology and dance combine for international DANSATHON

Posted on 12 September 2018

Technology and dance combine for international DANSATHON


DANSATHON, a dance and technology hackathon to explore future innovations in dance, takes place in London, Liège and Lyon this September created by the BNP Paribas Foundation in partnership with Maison de la Danse in Lyon, Sadler's Wells and the Théâtre de Liège.

Coinciding with Lyon international Dance Biennale, during 72 hours from 28 - 30 September, five interdisciplinary teams in each of the three cities combine dance and new technologies such as motion capture and AR/VR to explore new ways to create, perform and share dance with a diverse audience.

Teams are provided with space, relevant technology and support from coaches and mentors, to test possibilities and produce a prototype, exploring questions such as ‘how can we make dance more viral and accessible?’ and ‘how can digital dance cross social, physical and cultural boundaries?’

At the end of the weekend a jury will evaluate the projects based on what has been created so far. In each city, the best project will be rewarded with a fellowship of 10,000 euros from BNP Paribas Foundation and will benefit from the support of Sadler’s Wells, Maison de la Danse de Lyon, and Théâtre de Liège to continue their creation.

In London, the coaches are artist-curator, researcher and director Ghislaine Boddington, a specialist in body responsive technologies and immersion experiences; designer, maker and coder Ling Tan; software engineer turned neuroscientist Gonçalo Lopez; senior designer of wearable technology Audrey Gaulard; creative technologist Nikolaos Chandolias; and poet and dance writer Karthika Naïr.

The jury in London is comprised of Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding; Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Wayne McGregor; BNP Paribas Foundation supported artists Honji Wang and Sébastien Ramirez; writer and speaker on digital innovation in the arts and cultural sector Bhavani Esapathi; UX (User Experience) and service designer and founder of Afrotech Fest Florence Okoye; theatre writer Lyn Gardner; Chaniya-Rose Manning-Onolaja, a member of Legacy Youth Voice, helping to shape the future of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and create opportunities for young east Londoners; and Jane Ayaduray, Head of Diversity and Inclusion, BNP Paribas UK.

Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive Alistair Spalding said: “DANSATHON is an opportunity for us to understand what impact digital culture will have on the art form and explore new innovations in technology and dance that can benefit both worlds. It aims to use the tools of the digital age to create better understanding between people.

The 35 London participants were selected from 168 applicants after an open call, with equal numbers having expertise in dance, choreography, creative technology, design, physical object making, media and communication, and facilitation.

JiaXuan Hon, Producer of DANSATHON for Sadler’s Wells, said: “It’s an extremely apt time for DANSATHON to take place. The disruptions that new technologies bring, whether positive or less so, have been shaping and transforming our lives and body cultures very quickly. These technologies are now moving beyond screens and towards calling for immersion of the full body, and human-computer interfaces are being redefined. DANSATHON brings together an exciting mix of experts from dance, design and technology to play and imagine, and we look forward to seeing worlds where the power of human body and movements as well as new technologies is equally harnessed look like.”

Jean-Jacques Goron, Managing Director of the BNP Paribas Foundation, said: “Through its support to contemporary dance, the BNP Paribas Foundation aims to encourage creation and experimentation. By creating the Dansathon with our partners, we want to develop a new laboratory that offers creators the means to imagine the future of dance through the use of new technologies. The Dansathon is also a new way for us to consider philanthropy, enabling us to spot new talents and help them achieve their project.


For more information or to arrange interviews please contact Caroline Ansdell on 020 7863 8125 or



Date: Friday 28 - Sunday 30 September 2018

Times: (Friday) 9am-10pm (Saturday) 8am-10pm (Sunday) 8am-7pm

Venue: Plexal, Here East, 14 E Bay Lane, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, London, E20 3BS, UK


Dansathon for Sadler’s Wells

People and Partners – Full Biographies


Ghislaine is an artist-curator, researcher and director, a specialist in body responsive technologies and immersion experiences. She is recognised as an international pioneer, having strongly advocated the use of the entire body as a digital interaction canvas for over 25 years.

From a performing arts background, Ghislaine has directed numerous international projects, creating unique convergences between the physical body, telepresence, motion capture, robotics, wearables, sense/gesture tech and virtual worlds. She developed co-creation methodologies for these connected immersive experiences, experimenting with the hyper-enhancement of our senses. She is currently researching what she calls “The Internet of Bodies”, the evolution of our future multi-selves through tele-intuition, deep body connectivities (sensors/implants) and the rapid blending of the virtual/physical.

Through her Readership in Digital Immersion at the Department of Creative Professions and Digital Arts at the University of Greenwich (since 2015) and her Artist Research Fellowship at ResCen, Middlesex University (since 1999), she makes her work by means of research-led practice, aiming to widen access to the complexities of today’s body technology integrations through her curations, presentations and productions.

She regularly curates since 1995 and is currently a co-curator of Nesta’s FutureFest 2018, curating the FutureFest Forward series around the festival. She is a Standing Committee member of RAN, the French digital arts network since 2007. As a key activist in diversity she co-founded of Women Shift Digital in 2013 and is a long-term Advisor to the Stemettes. She currently co-presents bi-weekly for Click (BBC World Service Radio).

In 2017, Ghislaine was awarded the IX Immersion Experience Visionary Pioneer Award by Society for Arts and Technology (SAT) for her long-term innovative work in digital arts, and in particular her “passionate and inspirational engagement towards embodied intelligence”.


LING TAN (Coach)

Ling Tan is a designer, maker and coder interested in how people interact with the built environment and wearable technology. Trained as an architect, she enjoys building physical machines and prototypes ranging from urban scale to wearable scale to explore different modes of interaction between people and their surrounding spaces. Her work falls somewhere within the genre of wearable technology, Internet of Things(IoT) and citizen participation and involves working with various communities in different cities on co-creating wearable technology used as tools to express their relationship with the city.

Her recent work; SUPERGESTURES consists of a series of workshops with a total of 50 young people from different local community groups in Manchester that culminated in a large-scale outdoor multimedia performance in the city centre through which members of the public expressed their relationship to the city and their visions for the future with body gestures performed using wearable technology. She is currently working at Umbrellium in London to understand social wearables through community participation where she leads and produces projects such as WearON, an open source prototyping platform for wearables and WearAQ, a series of wearable tools for exploring air quality issues through people’s subjective perception.

As an artist, she is currently supported by FutureEverything’s FAULT LINES programme. She has worked with museums such as Victoria and Albert Museum, Wits Art Museum, South Africa and Watermans Art Centre, UK. Her works have been exhibited in shows such as Utopian Bodies: Fashion Looks Forward (2015) and featured in magazines and websites across the globe such as Dezeen, Wired and Fast Company.



Gonçalo is a software engineer turned neuroscientist, fascinated by the behaviour of intelligent systems. His background in real-time interactive technologies has opened up opportunities for designing augmented performances in collaboration with dancers and choreographers. Gonçalo is passionate about sharing knowledge and making technical tools more accessible, and is in turn inspired by creative applications of these technologies.



With a hybrid background in Fashion Design and Design Engineering, Audrey designed and developed wearable technology products for the music and dance industry. She is a Senior Designer at rAndom International, working across the design, development and production of its large-scale projects. She is also a Teaching Fellow for the MA Innovation Design Engineering at Imperial College London & Royal College Of Art, and an Advanced Hackspace Fellow at Imperial College.



Born in Greece, Nikos Chandolias is a creative technologist who develops custom made software and hardware to create performative electronic installations. He received a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 2012 from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and a Master of Arts in Computational Arts in 2015 from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.



French-Indian, poet-dance producer/curator, Karthika Naïr is the award winning author of several books, including the invented fable The Honey Hunter published in English, French, German and Bangla. In her résumé as a dance enabler, one finds mention of multiple award-winning DESH (2011) by Akram Khan, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Damien Jalet, Käfig/Mourad Merzouki and two Olivier award-winning productions just to name a few.



Wayne McGregor CBE is a multi-award-winning British choreographer and director. He is Artistic Director of Studio Wayne McGregor, the creative engine of his life-long choreographic enquiry into thinking through and with the body. Studio Wayne McGregor encompasses his extensive creative collaborations across dance, film, music, visual art, technology and science; Company Wayne McGregor, his own touring company of dancers; and highly specialized learning and research programmes. Studio Wayne McGregor opened own newly created studio spaces at Here East in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in March 2017.

Wayne McGregor is also Resident Choreographer at The Royal Ballet, where his productions are acclaimed for their daring reconfiguring of classical language. He is Professor of Choreography at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and has an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Plymouth University and an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from University of Leeds. He is part of the Circle of Cultural Fellows at King’s College London.

McGregor is regularly commissioned by and has works in the repertories of the most important ballet companies around the world, including Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet and San Francisco Ballet. He haschoreographed for theatre, opera, film (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Fantastic Beasts, Sing, Cats), music videos (Radiohead, Thom Yorke, The Chemical Brothers), fashion (Gareth Pugh at London Fashion Week, 2017), campaigns (Selfridges), TV (Brit Awards, 2015/16), and site specific performances (Big Dance Trafalgar Square, 2012).

McGregor's work has earned him four Critics' Circle National Dance Awards, two Time Out Awards, two South Bank Show Awards, two Olivier Awards, a prix Benois de la Danse and two Golden Mask Awards. In 2011 McGregor was awarded a CBE for Services to Dance.



Artistic Director and Chief Executive, Sadler’s Wells

Alistair Spalding has been Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells since 2004. Under his direction, the theatre has become a world-leading dance house, producing and presenting new work and bringing the best UK and international dance to its audiences. Sadler’s Wells welcomes over 500,000 people in London each year, while its touring productions attract over 130,000 in the UK and overseas.

Since 2005, Spalding has driven the commissioning, producing and co-producing of over 150 shows, many of them involving Sadler’s Wells’ 16 Associate Artists, three Resident Companies and four Associate Companies – the most exciting talents working in dance today.

Before joining Sadler’s Wells, Spalding was the Head of Dance and Performance at the Southbank Centre, London, 1994-2000 and, previously, a programmer at the Hawth Theatre, Crawley, 1988-1994.

Spalding was awarded the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres in 2005. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen's Birthday Honours in 2012, for services to dance.



Lyn Gardner writes about theatre for The Stage and the Independent. She is recepient of the 2017 UK Theatre Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre.



Bhavani Esapathi is a writer and speaker on Digital Innovation in the Arts and Cultural Sector as well as the Founder of The Invisible Labs; a social tech initiative to make invisible Autoimmune Diseases more visible. She is the Director and Mentor of The Goethe-Institut's MOOC on Arts Management, a Fellow of The Royal Society for the Arts, the recipient of the WIRED Creative Hack Award 2015, participant of FutureEverything’s Global FUTR Lab 2015, and a member of Near Now (Nottingham Broadway's studio for arts, design and innovation). 



Florence Okoye is a UX and service designer interested in the application of design thinking to complex engineering systems. Since 2015 she has founded and curated the annual AfroFutures_UK conference, exploring AfroFuturism and the intersection of race and technology, with a particular focus on how technology can impact the reimagining of the black identity.

Okoye is one of the organisers of Afrotech Fest in London (2018), a Birmingham Open Media (BOM) Fellow, and also a design facilitator with community engagement projects via Spaghetti Jams which aims to spread awareness about design thinking both as a methodology for self-empowerment and addressing local issues.



Chaniya-Rose Manning-Onolaja from Waltham Forest is a member of The Legacy Youth Voice. Working with London Legacy Development Corporation, Legacy Youth Voice is a diverse group of young people who help to shape the future of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and create opportunities for young east Londoners. Currently studying A Levels in English, Sociology and Psychology, Chaniya wrote songs for the London 2012 Olympics, was the Runner Up in Jack Petchey’s “Speak Out” Challenge!, and more recently performed in Breakin’ Convention’s Future Elements Music Video.



Award-winning choreographers Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang, who feature in forthcoming Sadler’s Wells Production Dystopian Dream, with music by Nitin Sawhney, are renowned for developing a unique movement vocabulary rooted in hip hop, which incorporates multiple artistic influences from contemporary dance, ballet and martial art movements. The duo’s choreographic language is often referred to as urban Tanztheater and their pieces have won many accolades, including the Outstanding Performers Award at the Bessies in New York. Their other awards include the 1st Prize and Audience Prize at the International Choreography Competition of Hannover, as well as the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative Program nomination, amongst others. Wang and Ramirez developed a conceptual dance performance for the opening celebration of the arts space MADE in Berlin. In 2015, they contributed to the creation phase in New York City and choreographed for the live show of Madonna’s Rebel Heart Tour. The pair presented Borderline, a gravity-defying work through a subtle use of rigging, at Sadler’s Wells in October 2015.



Jane Ayaduray joined BNP Paribas as UK Head of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) in 2017. She is responsible for developing and leading the organisation’s D&I strategy and initiatives in line with the business agenda. Prior to joining BNP Paribas, Jane led the Global LGBT, Disability and Flexibility agendas at Standard Chartered, where she spent 10 years in a variety of HR roles in Asia and the Middle East. She has twice been named one of the Top 50 Diversity Professionals in Industry, and has spoken internationally on a number of diversity related topics. Jane Ayaduray has an MBA (Hons) from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and is a passionate mentor of emerging talent.


JIAXUAN HON (Producer for Sadler’s Wells)

Born and raised in Malaysia, JiaXuan is an independent producer, currently producing for Sadler’s Wells and dance company AΦE. She has previously worked for some of the best contemporary dance artists (Akram Khan, Yang Liping and Fang-Yi Sheu), and worked in the intersection of art and technology since 2014.


Partners include: NEUROGEARS (Technology Sponsor), EAVI, Goldsmiths, University of London - Tech partner, sponsoring Myo (  and body>data>space 


BNP Paribas Foundation

Under the aegis of the Fondation de France, the BNP Paribas Foundation has been playing a key role in corporate philanthropy for over 30 years. The BNP Paribas Foundation’s activities are aimed at promoting innovative projects dedicated to the Arts, Solidarity and the Environment. It provides optimal support to its partners, through a long-term commitment. The BNP Paribas Foundation has been supporting contemporary dance for 33 years. It accompanies 17 artists and their companies to foster creation internationally. The BNP Paribas Foundation also encourages experimentations at the crossroad of dance and new technologies, and promotes the commitment of artists and major dance institutions in the community. Believing in cross-disciplinary approaches and hybrid experiences, it also supports companies in the field of new circus arts.


Press contacts at BNP Paribas:

Renato Martinelli – – +33(0)1 58 16 84 99

Sarisher Mann – – +442075958150

Heymann Renoult Associées: Sarah Heymann et Silvia Cristini – - +33 (0)1 44 61 76 76




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