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What Can The Design Industry Learn from Dance?

Nicky Lobo + Sophia Watson explain how the design industry can take a que from the dance world, as with recent Dance House production, ‘Island’.

What Can The Design Industry Learn from Dance?


January 14th, 2015

Dance and architecture have long been linked through their shared use of space as a medium for creative interpretation. They are also closely linked through the way they both invite the audience to participate and immerse themselves within their environment.


This work entitled Island, brings the audience to the forefront of the stage – literally. Similar to the New York site-specific Sleep No More, the piece invites the audience to really take part in the performance.


With no designated seating, audience members are encouraged to walk amongst the futuristic constructs, lit by moving figures all in white and the illuminated floor highlighting the geometric nature of the design and the highly purposeful choreography of Batchelor.

By encouraging the audience to seek new perspectives, Batchelor’s choreography is given license to shift in size, orientation and reflection, allowing the surroundings to become a directing part of the movement, and the choreography to flow alongside the constructs.

This complex melting pot of influencers and inspirations is cooked-up by Batchelor Along with key collaborators, Architect and Designer, Ella Leoncio, Sound Designer Morgan Hickinbotham and fellow dancers Amber McCartney and Bicky Lee, to create an atmosphere that is distinctly eerie, engrossing and utterly hypnotic.


The main point we as designers and architects can take here is clear: Interactivity is king. Never has it been so important to promote opportunities for audiences – and more appropriately in our case, end users and general consumers – to participate within their surroundings and objects.

Look at any recent commercial project in the last five years, what is the common thread? Activity Based Working has exploded in the last few years, and why? because businesses are beginning to understand the impact working environments have on productivity.


As in the example of the Island dance performance, the success was largely predicated on the audience interacting with the space. The design industry could certainly stand to take a note or two.

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