Passe-Partout iPad App Puts Viewers In Charge Of Choreographic Permutations

“Ballet at Your Fingertips | The New York Times”

[New York, NY] – “Wow! I feel like a choreographer!” is perhaps the best compliment that could be accorded “Passe-Partout,” the fourth–and newest–dance app created by the 2wice Arts Foundation, and just released on iTunes.

The app’s eight dances were created by New York City Ballet’s Justin Peck, marking a first-time adventure for the rapidly rising 26-year old choreographer and for his screen dancing partner, City Ballet principal Daniel Ulbricht.

French for “passes through all,” “Passe-Partout” possesses un tour de passe-passe (a sleight of hand) all its own. Five buttons, each matching the color of the costumes of the dance, edge the left side of the glowing white screen (consider it also, stage right.) The buttons invite the user to play with the dances and layer up to five of them at will, which is to say that Ulbricht and Peck can appear as soloists, in duet, trio, quartet, and on and on. Users can multiply their images and movement until the choreography becomes choral in its constantly changing designs.

As new dances are added, the dancers’ bodies grow ghostlike so that all of the layers can be seen simultaneously through each other. The multiplication of layers can also be created by tipping the iPad, so that it works in the way of a gyroscope. A total of 13,440 unique ballets are possible. User masterpieces can be shared instantly with potential fans through Facebook and email.

The app also brings the viewing experience close up and personal; proximity of the dancers onscreen allow users to catch facial expressions not visible in a theatrical situation, as well as the turn of an ankle, the flick of the finger, the slow fall of a foot, or the lift out of the hips before a jump, it’s all there to be watched and wondered at.

2wice Arts Foundation released its first app in July 2011. Comprised of selected photographs of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company that had appeared in four special Cunningham-dedicated print issues of 2wice over the past decade, the app was designed to be its own Cunningham Event. Its photographs morph image into image, like a dance. The viewer is able to determine the speed of the changing images. Available free of charge on the App Store, the app also includes videos of former Cunningham dancers Jonah Bokaer and Holley Farmer, dancing short selections of Cunningham’s work. To download the Merce Cunningham Event App for the iPad and for an overview of its contents, go to

Advances in technology made possible the greater sophistication of “Fifth Wall,” 2wice’s second app, which was released in June 2012. With choreographer/dancer Jonah Bokaer performing inside a specially created box scaled to the dimensions of the iPad screen, the dance could be reframed in multiple ways by its viewer, giving the illusion of multiple dances taking place simultaneously, or one dance with multiple points of view. Viewers can shift the sequence of events and eliminate or add images. Another jump in technology allowed “DOT DOT DOT” to incorporate scenic changes and the multiplication of the same image in different spaces. ‘DOT DOT DOT’ was nominated for the prestigious People’s Design Award. “Passe-Partout,” “Fifth Wall” and “DOT DOT DOT” are available through the App Store for the iPad for $0.99.


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