Dr Lisa May Thomas

Dr Lisa May Thomas

Designing participatory performance using Virtual Reality technology

Lisa will give an introduction to participatory performance with VR. She will focus on her own work ‘Soma’ (2022), outlining some of the ways in which she integrates dance practices with VR. Soma is an hour-long participatory multi-sensory experience using multi-person VR, developed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers, choreographers, artists, and technologists, including visually impaired collaborators. Lisa will discuss participants’ experiences over a 3-day run of Soma performances at the Bloomsbury Theatre in May 2022, addressing themes of sensorial awareness and participatory agency, the practices of care undertaken by the Soma dancer-guides, and the residual, often transformative effects of the experience for participants.

Lisa May Thomas is a dance and film artist working at the intersection of performance and technology whose immersive film and performance work has been experienced by audiences around the world. Her practice-as-research PhD (University of Bristol, 2021) investigated the role of digital technologies in performance, combining dance-somatic and improvisation practices with multi-person VR technology. In 2022, she led the VR participatory performance work Soma, alongside which she curated In-Body an online community-led resource of body-technology practices. She is developing new work on body image and avatar development, and has just launched a new immersive participatory binaural sound experience Unlocking Touch with UCL’s Digital InTouch Lab. She has presented her work at numerous academic and industry events, most recently at C-Dare’s research network at Coventry University (2019), Goldsmiths University in London (2021), and Tanzmesse in Dusseldorf (2022). Lisa is a QuestLab Network Artist for Studio Wayne McGregor in London, and resident at the Pervasive Media Studio in Bristol, UK. She is also part of the Pain, Somatics and Technology Network at C-Dare, Coventry University, and a member of the Institute of Somatic Communication with Dr Nita Little.

Read more about Lisa May Thomas here – may-productions.co.uk

Read more about the Soma project here – soma-project.co.uk

Photo credits: Alice Hendy

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