Polymer Omni

Spatial awareness for beginner contemporary improv dancers

Polymer Omni is a proposal for an app to incorporate into dance practices for vancouver-based contemporary dance group Polymer.

Roles

User Research
Interaction design
UI Design

Team

Kenneth Bruskiewicz
Alireza Mogharrab

Polymer Omni offers spatial awareness for improv dance beginners by recording their path and playing it as animation. The animation shows how the dancers moved in relation to others.

It allows users to look into their dance collectively from top or side views. The top view helps them to see their use of space, and the side view helps them to reflect on their use of level.

The user can turn off/on other dancer’s animation in playback. This feature helps them to focus on certain movements without clutter.

Process

Our process began by an interview with the director of the group at a local coffee shop.

In a rapid mind mapping session following the interview, we caught a glimpse of Polymer’s main challenges that our project was to be framed around.

We are wondering why we are not growing? … my goal is to run more shows and reach out to places with least access to the arts.

a mind map of Polymer and key challenges immediately after an interview with the group director

Problem

Despite having more than a decade of presence and successful shows, Polymer fails to retain beginner students in order to run more shows.

Reframing

After uncovering this problem we rapidly explored why this happens, and what are some opportunities. In evaluating ideas we realized that most of our solutions were trying to promote Polymer to a larger group of the audience or to communicate the value of the group more effectively, which later we found there was no problem with promotion as the beginners class already had a long waiting list.

Opportunity

Based on our journey frameworks, we directed our attention to opportunities that can reduce the learning curve of ensemble improv dance for beginners.

Research

We conducted ethnographic research into polymer dancers experience and identified friction points in the process of becoming an intermediate dancer. We used a number of ways to develop empathy with our audience and to deeply understand the context and the problem we aim to solve.

  • We took a beginner dance lesson at Polymer.
  • We observed multiple sessions of beginners and intermediate dancers.
  • We designed a package of activities for dancers to complete over a week.
  • We analyzed data from a yearly survey that Polymer conducted from both intermediate and beginners.
cultural probe package was designed to understand the characteristics of dancers
a design workshop with intermediate dancers to map their joureny

This research came into personas to use as the framework. Some common friction points for beginners journey included not knowing how to move in relation to other dancers, and not being aware of their own movements and patterns.

We proposed a solution which can record dancers movements individually and collectively, and provide them with reflective insights. Taking this further our research revealed the key areas which dancers need to be aware of and reflect on. These include direction, orientation, relationship, level, shape, and size.

Recognizing the moves

Practice sessions always aim to help beginner dancers to become aware of their movements. Although this can be done just by recalling their movements from their memory, it would be much easier if they could recognize their movement by looking at a visualisation.

Looking at the collective

Ensemble dance is highly dependent on how individuals create harmony together. Learning how dance partners move and their patterns are easier by seeing all the dancers movements collectively.

Reflection

This project helped me to see the value of observing users in their context and how this affects the creative process. Something that I used later on in my internship with Samsung.