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Journey to the shaman

Virtual dance performance using motion-capture technology
Brooklyn Experimental Media Center
Brooklyn, NY

Javier Molina’s “Journey to the Shaman” is a new kind of dance performance, a blending of ancient ritual with cutting-edge motion-capture technology and live music.  South American visionquests are led by a shaman, an experienced guide to the “great mystery,” who ushers seekers through the gates of consciousness with the help of sacred plants (which are powerfully hallucinogenic), ritual objects, fire, drumming, and dancing.  


Molina, who is from Ecuador but lives in New York, has found a way to bridge the distance between his modern life in the U.S. and his past in Quito and the Andes, where he was himself a seeker with a shaman, Sergio Maldonado.  

The shaman in Molina’s piece is represented by a 3D live avatar on a screen, burning with ritual fire.  The “living puppet” (embodied by a live dancer offstage) interacts with a pair of dancers onstage.  Their dance enacts the agon of the mental and spiritual conflict that sometimes arises within a seeker using San Pedro or Ayahuasca: the drug has a way of insisting on a coming-to-terms-with-oneself, and the experience is often harrowing before it’s peaceful.



This performance was created using Optitrack and UNREAL ENGINE 4 . 

Collaborators: Gao Jiafeng, Jeff Gretz, Caitlin Sikora, Patrick Corbin, Alison DeFranco, Jonathan Matthews.

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