Serpentine Dance

Serpentine Dance

The dance of the live and the animated: Performance animation by Kathy Rose, Miwa Matreyek and Eva Hall

Animation Practice, Process, and Production, Volume 3, Numbers 1-2, 1 December 2013, pp. 17-55(39)



Live performance combined with projected animation is both very new, with advances in projection mapping and motion sensors, and very old, harkening back to pre-cinematic projected séances, magic lantern shows, and to Winsor McKay’s vaudeville performances with his “trained” animated dinosaur, Gertie. Three contemporary artists embrace accessible tools, like stop-motion programs and hand-drawn animation, to single-handedly create and choreograph one-woman performances populated not only with their own bodies, but also with various animated figures, forms, and designs. Kathy Rose, began as an animator, and then later performed with her projections.  Miwa Matreyek uses her own figure as a silhouette in her performances, and created remarkable imagery with two projectors and a screen. Eva Hall’s Nautical Apsara combines stop-motion and digital animation and live dance.  All three women project themselves as characters into their animated performances. Each employs different aesthetic approaches, but all reference magic, dream, and mythologies in their work and their imagery.  They choreograph their movements to synch with their animated images.  The artists play a role behind the camera, and in front of the screen, and play with the dual nature of creator/director and subject/performer. Unlike studio animation, where there have historically been few directors or lead animators, women have had a strong and influential role in independent animation. This paper investigates how these three women from the world of independent animation, by inserting their physical bodies alongside animated projections of their bodies directly into the work and onto the stage, are creating work that fits within a larger tradition of women’s kinetic bodily performance, breaking new ground. My presentation includes my own performance with animation as part of my scholarly discussion.