National Dance Institute founder Jacques d’Amboise speaks with praise about the revolutionary TERP System.
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B. Seed : Thanks for being on brightseedblog Patrice. You went to the Juilliard school. Was there a specific reason you went there? What did you learn about choreography if anything?
Patrice : It is, in the majority opinion, the best performing arts school, good reason to go there. The faculty at the time I was there, consisted of some of the greatest working professionals in their fields. At Juilliard I learned that to be a choreographer you need courage to break the rules and an enormous amount of tenacity.
B. See : It seems that you started your own production company and troop, Human Development Productions and dance/ARTeam respectively, not long after you enrolled at Juilliard is that right?
Patric : First there was Rush Dance Co. which I started in the 70s. Then during the 80s I began working with technology in performance doing a piece called RAB with 3d human movement, this was before motion capture. At that time I added ARTeam, a group of art and technology associates who worked on one another’s projects. With members of ARTeam I made dance pieces with robotics and computer-controled costume effects always integrated with the choreography. I wanted to communicate with a broader audience, open the discussion – I always wished to give regular people, people outside the dance world, non aficionados a better understanding and appreciation of kinetic communication which eventually led me to my current project – the TERP game app.
B. Seed : Interval Research Corporation, who you did some consulting for, started by Paul Allen as “.. a research setting seeking to define the issues, map out the concepts and create the technology that will be important in the future..” Were there any issues, concepts or technology you learned that you now use or will use in future projects?
Patrice : From time to time, I did creative consulting for them. This was still at the moment when the tech industry was very interested by the artistic take on the future of technology and as I was the only choreographer at that point who actively pushed the envelope in tech innovation in performance, they wanted me around. In my discussions with the creative tech folks there I further developed my thinking about the TERP system, which is my main interest.
B. Seed : “Travels with a Donkey” a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson recounts his 12-day, 120-mile solo hiking journey through the Cévennes mountains in south-central France in 1878. You own a resort in that area, Villa Plantat. Do you hike much when you are there?
Patrice : Villa Plantat is a 400 acre vinyard/farm with a private swimming lake which I rent out in the summer. Yes I hike there.
B. Seed : You feature yoga retreats and a chef who serves vegetables from his garden, is that right? What’s the cost for a week at Villa Plantat?
Patrice : we serve all kinds of Provençal food at Yoga Week France. Prices start at $1280 for the week. Go on Facebook to Yoga Week France for more.
B. Seed : You have a website for your documentary, “Moving Gracefully Towards the Exits”, a film about your relationship with French physicist Michel Gouilloud who died from ALS, i believe, in 1997. At the site is a quote from him: “I really want to be able to die as comfortably as possible, but also with maybe a touch of elegance if I can …” Best European Independent Documentary 2013 at the European Independent film Festival. This was especially gratifying right?
Patrice : You can watch the film on line at the cultureunplugged festival (http://ow.ly/zffhT). Shooting over the course of 3 years while being caregiver to someone with ALS was not obvious. I ended up with 60 hours of footage. Once I recovered enough to approach the footage, it was difficult to see right away the structure. I am extremely happy to say that we made the film that Michel and I wanted. Michel was the best of humans.
B. Seed : You are the inventor of TERP, a “wireless multi-channel broadcast system of custom-built hardware and software for composing, directing, and driving human movement without rehearsal”. Is this a choreographers’ tool?
Patrice : It’s called TERP, from the word Terpsichore, but also TERP – Totally Enveloping Real-time Play. It certainly could be used as a choreographers’ tool but that’s not at all the main idea; it’s for regular people of all ages and backgrounds . Presently we use the custom –made system which is not scalable meaning we can’t bring the experience to anyone anywhere. So we are doing a Kickstarter to make the TERP game app. As you will see from the video, TERP Corp is an all female start-up (http://ow.ly/AxVOu). I have been developing this project for about 10 years, finding what works best. Hundreds of people of all ages have tried it and taken to it immediately; using technology to get away from face to screen and move towards face to face or better yet, body to body. We have given the experience to diverse groups, from kids with learning disabilities to 90 year olds. Last year I was a presenter at Envision Symposium in Monterey, started by my old friend Bran Ferren who is former President of Disney Imagineering research and development. He is now founder and CEO of Applied Minds.
Academy Award winner Bran Ferren talks about TERP
B. Seed: Hardware designer Jesse Lackey and software designer Eric Singer, how have they helped you?
Patrice : After writing the specifications for the TERP system I sought out the best engineers; people with vision and an artistic bent to write the software and build the hardware. They got the job done – it took quite a bit of time because of lack of money but as the saying goes you can get something good quickly and expensive or you can get something good slowly and not expensive.
B. Seed : You just launched a Kickstarter campaign for TERP. How’s it going? Have you or do you expect to get financial help from any past associates?
Patrice : At the moment Kickstarter funding is all about my past associates and friends. I hope this article can get the word out. For just $20 you will get a TERP starter kit and when your friends come on board you will be able to play the TERP app together.
B. Seed : So what’s next for you?
Patrice : I am putting together a date base of 5000 instructions and commands. Once you have the app, you will be able to go to the website and type in, for example, ‘family Thanksgiving in my living room’ or ‘kids birthday party in the backyard’ or ‘corporate ice-breaker’ and you will get a ‘deck’ of instructions for that event. A deck is a bunch of instructions. So everyone has their smart phone, one person is the ‘pilot’ who chooses which commands to send to the group of ‘players’. Sometimes everyone gets the same command and sometimes half and half and sometimes one and the rest of the group. Eventually you will be able to have more than one pilot so the pilots can play a scenario in real-time. Everything is in synch.
B.Seed : Thanks for being here. Anything you would like to say to our viewers?
Patrice : Check out our Kickstarter, see how TERP works. One thing for certain, it is a huge amount of fun! In the future I see people playing the TERP game all over the world. Sharing and comparing their experience on social media – having fun, instant laughter, experiencing and learning by doing as opposed to accumulating information. It’s a lot like life.