Brooklyn Ballet's Wearable Tech

November 28, 2001

“Wearable tech” usually means something like Google Glass. But now, it can apply to ballet dancers too.

Brooklyn Ballet
teamed up with local hacking collective NYC Resistor to make wearable tech for the company’s Nutcracker. The results of their effort were glittering LED tutus for the snowflakes and a light-up shirt for Drosselmeyer that responded to his arm and chest movements.

The hackers and designers ran into some interesting problems as they created the costumes. It turned out that the static electricity generated by layers of tulle rubbing against each other was enough to short-circuit the LED lights in the snowflakes’ tutus. The designers had to rip out and replace the lights after each performance.

Technology has been making serious inroads with contemporary dance, but it’s not often a featured element in ballet performances (with the recent exception of Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland). Brooklyn Ballet’s experimental costumes seamlessly integrate technology into a classical setting, while also making the Nutcracker a truly community-oriented project and performance.