a multimedia game ballet
parallels in the life of a prima ballerina

unraveling time


Kathleen Ruiz, Ph.D. abd: originator/theatrical set, game and media designer
Jonathan Chan & Kathleen Ruiz: treatment images
arah Plant: music
Pauline Oliveros: music
Pending approval, Martine van Hamel: ballet virtuoso/dancer/choreographer
Lisa Naugle, Ph.D.: modern dance & motion capture choreographer/performance

How do we deal with time and timelessness, the triumph of the human spirit while the body changes through time? Telomere is a multimedia ballet which uses the process of biological cell division as a metaphor for the life process of a prima ballerina.  In an alchemy of art and science the diverse aspects of the body and its journey through time are revealed.

Telomere bends time as we are transported by the emergence of a child virtuoso of ballet through Beginnings, Essences, and Attempts following her life through its Triumphs, Challenges/Changes, Progressions, and the essence of Timelessness.  


We will experience live and projected ballet and modern dance performance set to original music, against a backdrop of moving archival dance film footage and scientific imagery projected onto theatrical sets. Specific dance movements will be motion captured and will reappear as projected animated 3d models that dance with their counterparts. 
A series of vignettes emerge that urge us to consider the progression of time as the most natural of occurrences. The work will also feature mobile game interfaces that influence the progression through the sequences, and other elements that break through the Fourth Wall,
the imaginary boundary between any fictional work and its audience.

the sections of DNA occurring at the extreme ends of each chromosome eukaryotic cells. Telomeres consist of highly repetitive sequences of DNA that do not code for proteins, but function as caps to keep chromosomes from fusing together. These repetitive sequences protect the ends of the chromosome from damage, and prevent the chromosomes from fusing into rings, or binding haphazardly to other DNA in the cell nucleus. The length of the telomere influences the stability of genetic information just interior of the telomere, since the nucleotide sequences at the ends of a chromosome are not copied by DNA polymerase. Successive copying can thus shorten telomeres, sometimes to the point that functional genes near the telomeres are lost, and this may play a role in cellular senescence. The shortening of telomeres during each round of cell division may be part of the natural aging of cells, a clock that possibly determines the longevity of a cell lineage.



Mandala of Life Choices:

Islands in a Life: Slowly moving islands of satellite GPS locations will represent passages or milestones in the life of the ballerina. The audience chooses which islands to explore through a text based game platform. The text reveals and conceals powerful elements from each milestone. 

mandala of telomere quadruple


Audience plays a text based platformer game that influences the sequences of the performance:

better text based garvity's pull sample

As an example: Gravity’s Pull by Jeffrey Steel, Kevin Hendricks, & Michael Lechner, with Jonathan Reed. Please see: http://vimeo.com/92803772

Animated 3D block text worlds express sentiments that work with…or against the ballerina:

legible city sample
 As an example: from the Legible City by Jeffrey Shaw. Please see:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61l7Y4MS4aU



Vignettes & Movements

Beginnings: Parents:
“When I would go to sleep, they would have their evening of the week that was spent playing chamber music. For me growing up, it was a sound that was always very soothing and familiar.”
 --Martine Van Hamel
The Ballerina Music Box: aspirations

Essences: Teacher:
“…a lovely teacher that sends you in the right direction and teaches you the right things.
I was 10. I studied with Henry Danton of the Royal Ballet. This was when my father was stationed in Caracas.” --Martine Van Hamel

Attempts: Leaping into time:
The music box plays and plays with the tiny ballerina inside, but it eventually breaks. The watchmaker not only fixes it, but sets time into motion!

Interlude I: The Dance of the Telomeres occurs after each milestone. Each time the telomeres become shorter during DNA sequencing. With original music and/or sonification of DNA data sequences.

Emergence: Early Life:
* Joins the National Ballet of Toronto in Canada, attends high school and completes grades 9 through 12
* Becomes principal dancer with The National Ballet of Canada
* Coach Celia Franca advises, use what you have: “She was a terrific, really beautiful coach. She was very theater conscious and really good especially when I was young and learning roles that were maybe a little advanced emotionally advanced even though I could probably do them technically. She was very specific and coached every fingernail practically. I think I learned a lot of theater techniques in terms of what looks good in the theater how to use what you have and how to present it to the public.”  Martine Van Hamel
* Joins the City Center Joffrey Ballet

Interlude II: The Dance of the Telomeres

Triumphs: a model of the new woman: physical prowess with incredible grace
* Wins Gold Medal and Prix de Varna for the best artistic interpretation in all categories at the International Ballet Competition held in Varna, Bulgaria
* Rises quickly through the American Ballet Theater to become a Principal Dancer in 1973
* Highly-acclaimed debut as Odette-Odile in Swan Lake
* Performs classic  ballets: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, La Sylphide, La Bayadere, Don Quijote, Coppelia, Giselle and Raymonda

Interlude III: The Dance of the Telomeres: anomalies start to occur

Challenges /Changes: the glass ceiling
The Broken Foot
A glass snow globe engulfs the ballerina. Stereotyping, expectations, routines, and, as in any life….some limitations
February 1, 2012
“Once, at American Ballet Theatre, I was watching Antony Tudor’s “Lilac Garden,” which is about a sort of engagement party. The tall, grand Martine van Hamel was playing “An Episode in His Past,” (the cast-off mistress of the groom) and Richard Schafer was the groom. At one point, van Hamel, pleading with Schafer, fell into his arms, and he lifted her. As he did so, van Hamel whispered to him that she had hurt her foot (in fact, she had broken it) and that he should please carry her into the wings. He obliged, and after a few seconds, the curtain came down.”
--The Harder They Fall, Posted by Joan Acocella,

Interlude IV: The Dance of the Telomeres

Celebrates the life of an extraordinary woman with spectacular talent and dedication

Interlude V: The Dance of the Telomeres

The Essence of Timelessness:
The circle repeats

* Starts her own ballet company, the New Amsterdam Ballet
* Co-founding of the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center with Gregory Cary, Kevin McKenzie and Bentley Roton dedicated to the growth, advancement and preservation of professional dance
* ABT, continuing performances created for her by AnneMarie DeAngelo, and Wendy Perron
* Living a remarkable life and engaging artists in an imaginative and challenging repertoire



3d printed figurines from the ballet can be purchased at the concert in conjunction
with custom-made music boxes. The proceeds will help support the project.
ballerina statue_mesh for 3d printing
 As an example: stylized 3D sample which would be taken from the motion capture data of the dance