“Warning: tango contains highly addictive ingredients, such as pain, pleasure, passion, excitement, connection, freedom, torment, and bliss. In seven out of ten cases it takes over a person’s life.”
– Naomi Hotta
Interactive Tango Milonga is an interactive system allowing Argentine tango dancers to drive musical outcomes in real-time via their dance movement in the social context. Motion sensors are attached to the ankles and back of each dancer, and data coming from these sensors are then translated into tango music via computational algorithms. The other dancers in the tango social event (i.e., the milonga), who are not wearing sensors, dance to the music that the interactive system creates. The aim of Interactive Tango Milonga is to enrich connection in two senses of the word. First, connection describes the concept from Argentine tango of feeling at one with partner, music, and tango community; and second, it refers to the movement techniques that allow dancers to improvise together as one with the music. By giving dancers agency over musical outcomes, the interactive tango system provides a conduit for non-verbal communication novel to the Argentine tango dance tradition: sound.
Courtney Brown was introduced to tango music via her experience playing accordion, and she has been socially dancing for over fourteen years. As a musician, she experiences her dancing and movement as sounding, and tango dance as very similar to playing an instrument. She has a deep desire for her dance movement to make non-incidental, musical sound. Thus, Interactive Tango Milonga was born. She received a 2013-14 Fulbright Award to work on her interactive tango project in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has been working on different aspects of the project ever since.
Interactive Tango Milonga is made possible in part through seed funding from the Pave Arts Venture Incubator at ASU.
Machine Tango (2018-19)
Instead of traditional tango instruments such as the bandoneón, dancers generate and transform the sounds of typewriters and found sounds. System musical response to movement shifts during the dance, becoming more complex. The two dancers must navigate the resulting unstable musical structures as one body, responding with stylized tango movements. The difficulty of this task and the juxtaposition of the traditional with the experimental are integral to the performance aesthetic.
Puente: A Study in Interactive Tango Dance (2018)
Puente is a study in performative interactive dance using the Interactive Tango Milonga system. Both leader and follower generate and drive melodies with their dance. These tango melodies are created in real-time via machine learning techniques. The accompaniment responds either in synchrony or in opposition to the movement.
2016 Dissertation Fellowship, Arizona State University
2015 Arizona State University PAVE Arts Venture Seed Funding
2013 Fulbright Award: Buenos Aires
Select Demonstrations and Performances
2020 New Musical Interfaces for Musical Expression Conference (NIME) Conference, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Birmingham, UK
Performance of Machine Tango, with Brent Brimhall, Argentine tango dancer
Online presentation due to COVID-19.
2020 New York Electroacoustic Music Festival (NYCEMF), New York University, New York, NY, Performance of Machine Tango, with Brent Brimhall, Argentine tango dancer
Online presentation due to COVID-19.
2020 Society for Electroacoustic Music in the US (SEAMUS) Conference,
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA. Performance of Machine Tango, with Brent Brimhall, Argentine tango dancer
Online presentation due to COVID-19
2020 Alliance of Women in Media Arts and Sciences (AWMAS) Conference, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA, Performance of Puente, with Brent Brimhall, Argentine tango dancer
2019 International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interactions (TEI) Tempe Center of the Arts, Tempe, AZ. Performance of Machine Tango, with Brent Brimhall, Argentine tango dancer
2019 MOXsonic, Missouri Experimental Arts Festival University of Central Missouri Center for Music Technology, Warrensburg, MO. Performance of Machine Tango, with Brent Brimhall, Argentine tango dancer
2018 Electronic Music Midwest Festival (EMM) 2018, Lewis University, Illinois. Performance of Puente: A Study in Interactive Tango Dance, with Brent Brimhall, Argentine tango dancer
2018 International Computer Music Conference (ICMC), Daegu, Korea
Puente: A Study in Interactive Tango Dance, with Brent Brimhall, Argentine tango dancer
2018 International Conference on Movement and Computing (MOCO), Casa Paganini – Infomus, DIBRIS, University of Genoa, Italy. Performance of Puente: A Study in Interactive Tango Dance, with Brent Brimhall, Argentine tango dancer and Interactive Tango Milonga Demonstration as social dance installation
2018 NIME Conference, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. Interactive Tango Workshop.
2018 ITINERANT Festival, New York, NY. Performance of ‘Puente: A Study in Interactive Tango Dance’ with Brent Brimhall, partner
2018 Big Beat Down! Creative Computation Showcase. Performance of Puente: A Study in Interactive Tango Dance with Brent Brimhall, partner.
2016 International Conference on Live Interfaces, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, Performance Demonstration of Interactive Tango Milonga with partner, Brent Brimhall.
2016 Pythias Lounge, Tempe, AZ,Performance Demonstration of Interactive Tango Milonga with partner, Brent Brimhall.
2016 Tango for All, Ability 360 Center, Phoenix, AZ. Interactive Tango Workshop for wheelchair tango.
2016 El Abrazo Practica, Scottsdale Neighborhood Arts Place (SNAP), Scottsdale, AZ. Workshop demonstration.
2015 SSOO Festival, Flagstaff, AZ. Performance demonstration with partner, Brent Brimhall.
Brown, C. & Paine, G. (2019) A Case Study in Collaborative Learning via Participatory Music Interactive Systems: Interactive Tango Milonga. In Holland, S., Wilkie, K., Mudd, T., Wanderley, M., McPherson, A. (Eds.), New Directions in Music and Human-Computer Interaction. London: Springer.
Brown, C. (2018). Interactive Tango Milonga: Designing DMIs for the Social Dance Context. Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression – NIME ’18, Blacksburg, VA, Virginia Tech.
Brown, C. (2017). Interactive Tango Milonga: An Interactive Dance System for Argentine Tango Social Dance (Doctoral dissertation, Arizona State University).
Brown, C. & Paine, G. (2016) Digital Musical Instruments for Participatory Music: Designing Internal Experience. Music and HCI Workshop, ACM SIGCHI Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference 2016. San Jose, CA.
Brown, C. & Paine, G. (2015). Towards an Interactive Tango Milonga. Proceedings of the 2015 International Computer Music Conference.
Brown, C. & Paine, G. (2015). Interactive Tango Milonga: Designing Internal Experience. Proceedings of the 2nd Conference on Movement and Computing.
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