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Ballet Slippers That Make Drawings from the Dancer’s Movements

Arduino Technology Wearables Yarncraft
Ballet Slippers That Make Drawings from the Dancer’s Movements


If you’re like me, then you may have been accused of dispensing some questionable moves in the vicinity of the dance floor. I’ve always maintained that my critics simply couldn’t grasp the subtlety of my particular style of physical expression, and now I just may have a means of illustrating my point with an ingenious piece of wearable electronics by designer Lesia Trubat González called E-Traces.


The concept of Electronic Traces is based on capturing dance movements and transforming them into visual sensations through the use of new technologies. To do this we focused on the ballet shoes themselves, which through the contact with the ground, and thanks to Lilypad Arduino technology, record the pressure and movement of the dancer’s feet and send a signal to an electronic device. A special application will then allow us to show this data graphically and even customize it to suit each user, through the different functions of this app.

[vimeo 108109673 w=640 h=360]

As you can see in the video, E-Traces is a new way of creating stunningly elegant marks, which are almost reminiscent of calligraphy. So, who knows, maybe you could be the Rembrandt of freestyle dancing, all you need are a pair of Arduino-enhanced ballet slippers!

[via Prosthetic Knowledge]

64 thoughts on “Ballet Slippers That Make Drawings from the Dancer’s Movements

  1. Douglas de la Brodoff says:

    Fun idea if the execution and the drawings themselves didn’t suck

    1. doorhammer says:

      What were you expecting? A painting of a sweeping landscape to magically materialize out of the dancers feet?

      Or maybe you could have seen an interesting abstract translation of one art medium into another.

      1. SB says:

        It might be more interesting if the lines just followed her feet, making a three dimensional movement into a two dimesional image rather than taking the shapes her feet makes and transposing them onto the screen. I wouldn’t go as far as Douglas but it was a little disappointing.

        1. Crissaegrim says:

          They haven’t rolled that kind of pin-point 3d spatial accuracy into arduino yet. Nintendo wiimotes have to use a variety of sensors including infrared (which would break when the shoes, the dancer’s body, and the infrared are colinear; blocking the view from the foot to the infrared). someday tho

          1. mando says:

            One could take the drawn lines and composite them to follow her feet in a 3D space to achieve that effect, however this could be done anyway without the need of fancy shoes.

          2. Dale K says:

            That’s a great Idea, you should go invent that since you are obviously such a genius.

          3. Landon Ginn says:

            its called putting a reflective sensor on the shoes and put her in a motion capture setting. we have the technology to have real time input into an already determined 3D space.
            And since it would just be maybe two trackers to follow it wouldnt be very strenuous on a computer.
            just have the tracker be input into something like motion builder that emits particles or something that draw the lines.

            you just have to composite it afterwards.

            it doesnt require writing anything new, it just requires some clever set up I guess. and a bit of knowledge on the matter.

            We landed on a freaking comet 300 million + miles away, we can have particle emission on a dancers feet in a movie.

          4. Jessica Strunk Cannon says:

            Then go invent it, since you are so damn smart, and better than everyone else! Go forth, and put people in their place with how clearly superior you are! Or… Stop bitching. Seriously. It’s negative shits like you that drain the joy out of a cool concept because you, in your entitled state of mind, feel something that another person has done for themselves in the world of art could have been ‘better’.

          5. Desirsar says:

            The only person with the sense of entitlement are those who want attention for a mediocre accomplishment. Not sure what I’d call the complex for someone otherwise uninvolved rushing to defend it, but I’d put it somewhere between severe OCD and religion.

          6. Landon Ginn says:

            You seriously need to relax. Nobody is acting entitled nor superior. Explaining current technology does not equate to being condescending. You are just being more sensitive than you need to be. If anybody is being negative it is probably you. I am in complete and total support over this video and the technology behind it. However, all things can be made better. thats what the people who made this video believe, its what artists believe its what engineers believe.

            And I will reiterate my previous statement Nobody has to invent it. there’s nothing new to invent, it currently exists. it just requires a set up. and I explained a theoretical set up.
            I apologize if you are upset over that, but I do not apologizing for bringing a bit of awareness of technology as well as defending previous poster’s statements regarding technology that some people are being equally as sensitive about as you.

            Just because somebody says “hey theres ways to enhance that” does NOT typically mean that the displayed one is being insulted or shot down.

          7. Eriyo says:

            You are the one that is bitching right now! He was simply suggesting another idea that would also be cool. It’s called constructive criticism! An art work can still be beautiful and creative even if a couple people have suggestions to improve it or just simply do not like it. You have to stop over-exaggerating everything people say and realize that there is always a way to improve something, and that this is just one of those ways.

          8. Nicco d'Alelio says:

            There’s no need to be so offended by someone’s input. They weren’t saying they were better than anyone. They were just tossing around an idea. Why are you so quick to hate on someone having an idea? It’s unnecessary negativity.

          9. John Daniels says:

            This is a maker forum. We give each other suggestions and expand our horizons as a group. We all like the effort that was made so far, and we’d like to see it expanded upon. Maybe you should lay off the coffee.

            I’m noticing now this was from over a year ago. Don’t mean to open old wounds. Ignore me if you like.

          10. mando says:

            Its already been invented. You see digital composting every time you turn on the tv there smart one.

          11. mando says:

            Also my original comment wasn’t meant to degrade the original video, I think the concept is awesome. But someone made a suggestion that would be cool and having a little knowledge myself in the 3D arts I thought I might give an answer of how such an effect could be done. There was no need to take such offense.

          12. Timothy Gray says:

            Just reflectors on the shoes, an IR light source and a fast HD camera. really easy to do. in fact it’s done daily at most EFX places using motion capture. it’s 2nd year college level stuff.

    2. Naitsirk says:

      I kind of expected much more too….

      Imogen Heap performs whole songs with gesture controllers … I’m not so impressed by some squiggly lines, by today’s standards the output should’ve been controlling all sorts of things via Max MSP … that dance could’ve been influencing images in a 360 greenscreen studio…and influencing the parameters of the music we are hearing too … at least!

    3. Jessica Strunk Cannon says:

      It’s also too bad your attitude sucks.

    4. Jessica Langston says:

      I have worked in motion capture and I can tell you, raw data, even 3D raw data, is not that exciting to look at. I expected it to look something like this or even worse.

      1. scott.ruth says:

        It’s been one yr since I decided to abandon my last job and i couldn’t be happier now… I started doing work from my house, over a site I found online, few hrs daily, and I profit now much more than i did on my last work… Payment i got for last month was for Nine thousand dollars… Amazing thing about this gig is that i have more time with my kids…

  2. Jacqueline Anderson says:

    I’d really like them as ballet flats not point shoes. I am a dancer and artist and would love to experiment with this technology!

  3. aggrigor says:

    Reblogged this on am699 and commented:
    Too cool!

  4. Brian Dickey says:

    Wonder if the uses could move beyond art, and used to compare technique of dancing during teaching.

    1. Roy Jones says:

      I was thinking along the same lines. Maybe this could lead to a way of automatically notating choreography.

    2. natalie says:

      This was one of the original intents behind the project. From the E-traces website: “The user can then view all the moves made in video format, extract images and even print them. Dancers can interpret their own movements and correct them or compare them with the movements of other dancers, as graphs created with motion may be the same or different depending on the type of movements executed and the correction of the steps and body position.”

  5. Kristen Chapman Gibbons says:

    Reblogged this on Big Blue Dot Y'all and commented:

  6. Malcolm Hall says:

    “stunningly elegant” is a bit much for some faked lines, sorry I mean “customised”

  7. Jowi Estava says:

    She could end a dance with a set of moves that spell out her signature hOW WICKED WOULD THAT BE

  8. Omer Golan says:

    The idea is good though not very original. The execution is poor. The images of the shoes with the lilypad actually look better than the art.

  9. William Darrell says:

    i like it when she writes poo

  10. Skully Mill says:

    It was nice, I would like to see what this looks like from an aerial point of view. It’s a little too much to take in, trying to follow the dancer AND the lines on the screen at the same time from two separate angles . If we could get an overlapping of the dancer and her tracked movements from above, that would be amazing to see! I believe people would be more appreciative of it and the art… just sayin’

  11. Chane Louw says:

    I would love to try a pair and see what comes out. Will they be available soon?

  12. ellen0catherine0scherer says:

    Reblogged this on ellen0catherine0scherer.

  13. artofrebellina says:

    Great technology! I’ve been painting with actual paint on canvas with my pointe shoes for years and I would love to try these out! The only problem is you don’t get the depth and layers like when you dance the paint on to the canvas.

    1. Mark Aidan Bergin says:

      Artofrebellina, where are you located? Your work would be a great feature in one of my newspaper columns. or

      1. artofrebellina says:

        Hi Mark,
        I split my time between NYC and Los Angeles. Feel free to contact me for one of your story’s ;)

  14. Dan Feierabend says:

    She totally spelled “Poo”

  15. Hughes says:

    The perfect repetition of the drawing at :31 is beautiful. It just goes to show how good her technique is.

  16. Gforce4ever says:

    Ballet is a gorgeous art form. This technology added nothing for me. I found it distracting, and would rather simply watch a beautiful human form move about gracefully and emotionally.

  17. Korhan Erel says:

    Anything that is presented with dubstep gives me the impression that it is developed by uncreative people for uncreative people. The dancing tells it all. The technology could flourish in the hands of smarter, more creative people and with better choreographed “contemporary” dancing.

    1. Christian Jaeschke says:

      You may not personally like the genre, but some dubstep music is rather creative. Besides, Lindsey Stirling’s music is very enjoyable and hardly pure dubstep.

      1. Korhan Erel says:

        Sorry for the belated reply Christian. Not familiar with Disqus. There is creative music in any genre and I do like earlier dubstep. And this was is personal taste. I am not an expert or a leading music/dance critic. ;)

  18. Travlingypsy says:

    As a dancer I found it flat and missed the point. I think as the technology develops it might have more depth and interest. Keep working it.

  19. Heather Brenneman says:

    To complete the picture, it would be cool to have sensors on the wrists to capture the sweeping movements of the dancer’s arms using a different color! :D

  20. Lady Smith says:

    I thinks is a pretty good idea, but they can get a better ballet dancer, she is like contemporary, in my point of view she don’t use a full pointe… :/ so.. get a ballet dancer.

  21. Lynda says:

    Only on the internet can people get into an argument and call each other names over dance shoes that track movement. Unbelievable

  22. Iris Tanksley says:

    As someone who danced professionally for over a decade, not only do I see the beauty of two artistic mediums merging into something new and innovative, but I can also see this as being an amazing tool for dancers, particularly classical ballet. As a teacher and choreographer, I would love to use this device to help correct and perfect technique. It gives a visual I could reference to show where a dancer may be not centered at her core by the amount of pressure in the lines, or if when doing fouetté’ and pirouette turns, there’s no movement of the standing leg. There is so much potential here for use in instruction.

  23. chan says:

    how does she dance with her hair down???

  24. Matt Piko says:

    yall mad, but yeah you can just do this in AE without the shoes LOLOLOL

  25. Gissy Whb says:

    Are really amazing. I wanted. Where do I buy it? : )

  26. Liz Jorgensen says:

    I think a lot of people don’t realize the marks don’t just come from the motions her feet are making, but from the pressure, too. It’s a bit more complicated than it might seem at first.

  27. Adam Gazzola says:

    Would be nice if it actually worked. Not once did I see it trace moves. Only saw it throw up random black blobs. Thanks for wasting my time!

  28. Sue Cook says:

    Ok I am a bit confused by this, the close up picture of the shoes show the ballet ribbons, these would never be worn in this formation by a dancer. It would a bit like putting the wheels on a car in the wrong place! Also the ribbons have been done up at the back of the ankle which would cause injury to the dancers achilles. This doesn’t really all add up. I’m not what what the advantages of this would be for notating Choreography than that of video recording and Benish do not cover. As a piece of art it make lovely patterns but surely you would have just taken the art out of artistic.

  29. Genevieve says:

    Lovely. From my point of view, here are some ways the marketing video can be improved – call it my request list for a video that will appeal more strongly to my demographic. In priority order:

    I’d like to see the “drawings” appear in real time, no delay, and in the correct place on the screen corresponding to where her feet/sensors actually are. (These are the two things that most made it seem less appealing for my use; it is too indirect and “disconnected” in its current form to pique the interest that it could have. I didn’t understand where half the squiggles were even coming from).

    I’d also like to see colorful and/or translucent lines instead of dense black; maybe show us textures or subtle animation effects if you have them (but only if they’re really slick).

    I’d really love to see two colors of sensors at a time… maybe on two different people… maybe even dancing something fast like salsa.

    Show us we can do the above things and you’ll have me as a customer!

  30. ayrafortuno says:

    Reblogged this on Decotherapy.

  31. Jenn Cretella says:

    Reminds me of this

  32. Sequoia M. says:

    Is there a tutorial/writeup or nah?

  33. GuruMageMan says:

    I’d have liked it better if they showed the dance, and then a 3D representation of where her feet went that slowly rotated so you could tell where all the lines were.

  34. Yamina says:

    Esta es mi tesis que presente hace más de un año… incluso es la misma música.

  35. AB says:

    It shows the contact of the sensor with the floor. In the photo you can see the sensor on the shoes very clearly.. The sensor covers mainly the bottom of the shoe which on a dancers arch won’t ever come into contact with the floor.. the sensor needs to be concentrated to the forefoot, metatarsals and toe area as well as the sides of the feet which touch the ground when in a turned out position.
    It’s an interesting idea but here is room for improvement, it is limited to only realizing the contact of the feet with the floor it can never be used for technical purposes..

  36. arthurkruisman says:

    Reblogged this on Talent and commented:
    Waar technologie en kunst elkaar kunnen ontmoeten

  37. bret says:

    Was an amazing output of lechal wearable collaboration between boston and india

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Artist, writer, and teacher who makes work about popular culture, technology, and traditional craft processes.

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