Clairaudient is the name given to the collaboration between choreographer, Danita Shaheen, and sound-designer, Dan Abatemarco, each of them stepping outside of their primary media to follow an idea: what if sound were to follow along with movement, rather than movement following sound? This idea became a feedback loop and a dance in and of itself, with movement and sound influencing each other in complex ways, resulting in sound and movement pieces with the two elements are steadfastly intertwined.

The technique that Abatemarco and Shaheen developed, with the help of long-time friend Chris Shaver, involves dancers interacting with vibration and motion sensors– often affixed to their bodies– to generate sound in real time as the performance happens. The sensors send audio and MIDI data into a computer which translates the input into sound. The dynamics afforded by giving dancers full and immediate control over the sounds they are performing with is integral to Clairaudient’s work, and is what allows for the deep interaction between the two elements.

The sounds of Clairaudient are conceived in an abstract way by Abatemarco, though they are orchestrated and arranged by Shaheen’s choreography. As such, the aural portion of Clairaudiant reflects many elements of his music project Speak Onion: rhythms collapsing on themselves, noise blasts, eerie textures, and drastic changes happening and unhappening in an instant. The resulting atmosphere combines fittingly, if uneasily, with Shaheen’s balletic training, modern tendencies, and unique eccentricities.

The interplay of sound and movement lends Clairaudient a distinct sonic signature, as well as a unique choreographic style, as Shaeen plays off of the sounds created, finding ways to manipulate, sustain or silence the sounds through movement.

While the case could be made that Clairaudiant is an experimental band or a hyper-modern dance company, neither would be entirely accurate. Clairaudiant is the process of two people exploring new ways for movement and sound to interact.

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