Virtual dance

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Virtual[1] dance uses avatars moving via given tools of a virtual world.

This will be shown using the possibilities that are offered by the virtual world Second Life.


To enter a virtual world like Second Life one needs to create an account and choose an avatar. This avatar can pose and move by sets of character animations. Sets of default character animations are available to each avatar. In addition, bvh-animations of all kinds are created manually or by means of Motion capture by residents of Second Life. Most of these can override the built-in standard animations. In this way an avatar can use individualized sets of animations (standing, walking, running, swimming, flying etc.) to express certain characters or styles.

Dance animations move avatars. A dance animation lasts usually between 20 and 60 seconds. Animations can be looped—restarting automatically again and again until manually stopped. Different dances can also be sequenced by putting them into a HUD that can play a recorded macro along a timeline. With the available animations virtual dancers can recreate a lot of dances known in real life like waltz, tango, salsa, funk, bebop and even classical routines like solos of Swan Lake by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.[2]


Synchronization may or may not be present in virtual dance. Synchronization of dancers in a group can be either automated, for example by all of them using the same HUD, or done by individual dancers on their own improvisation.

One form of virtual dance is live moving in free synchronization which is created by the independent use of animations by different dancers at the same time. A dancer will mix animations and override one by the other—coordinating by sight their own movement with movement of other dancers in the group to express feelings and mood in virtual dance.[3]

Defying gravity and body joint limits[edit]

Virtual worlds offer a larger spectrum to move than is possible in the real, physical world. Avatars in virtual worlds can fly, hover, and defy gravity in various ways. So there is given the possibility to create a virtual dance in air, flying.

Non-human avatars[edit]

Here we see examples of such non-human avatars as a mermaid and a metal alien with their individual kind of moving and dancing.


Virtual dance with its live feeling and possibilities to interpret music and transport feelings and mood is used to elevate dances similar to show-dance and even modern dance and ballet.[4][5] Surroundings, tools and kind of moving open very different and new possibilities to elevate dance in virtual worlds.


Music in virtual worlds is streamed to the land parcel where it is to be heard. All avatars on a parcel can hear this music by enabling it. This can be continuous music of a chosen internet radio or a live stream to play a certain song at a certain time as it is used by DJs in clubs.

Another possibility is streaming of live-music. Here musicians sing and play in a studio in real life and stream this live music to the land in the virtual world, where it can be heard in close to real-time. This way is used in 'live-concerts' in virtual worlds; the avatar of the singer is present on stage in virtual world while the artist sings in the studio in real life and is heard after a little delay by the avatars at the concert in the virtual world.

It is possible to dance a live concert like this in virtual dance.[6]

Advanced Tools[edit]

Simple dance HUDs are scripted items to allow residents to choose dance animations to dance alone or with friends. Advanced choreography tools offer dance directors ways to set up scripted dance pads that can follow recorded paths along timelines. These tools are suitable for more complex solo- and groupchoreographies.

Special effects can include the use of spotlights and the particle system to create colorful explosions.

Theatres and companies[edit]

In 2016 there is a growing list of approximately 30 theatres and dance companies that perform weekly, monthly or come up with a large production every few months.

Acts range from a series of solo acts on a single stage to large, even simwide productions with many dancers on several stages. In this case the audience will be seated on a moving vehicle.

Shows, setchanges, camera HUD's[edit]

Most dance shows have a duration of approximately sixty minutes and do consist of several routines. In between acts often the sets are changed by deleting the previous one and rezzing the next one from a rezzing box, or by dragging them in place from a location over or under the stage. Some shows offer the visitors a scripted seating or a special HUD that takes over their camera controls in order to provide them with the best possible viewing angles. Sometimes HUD's are given out that show translations of spoken text.


The dancers often need to change their costumes in between two sets.


Aspiring dancers are trained by the leaders and teachers of the companies or visit dance classes provided by academies like Journey Academy of Performing Arts and Dancing Outside the Lines.[8]

Magazines and info groups[edit]

An inworld magazine in SL devoted to showcase different aspects of virtual dance is Move magazine, a quarterly which saw its first issue published in June 2015.[9]

A website with reviews and a calendar[10] of past and upcoming shows is made available by the SL group 'Dance Queens'.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ wiktionary: virtual
  2. ^ nomasha anims
  3. ^ Virtual dance in Second Life
  4. ^ dance at
  5. ^ La Performance: Back to Black by Pia Klaar: This machinima shows cuts of four dances (out of 10) of modern ballet show 'BACK TO BLACK' presented by La Performance in Second Life between March 18th and May 9th 2010 and was taken during several live performances of this show on stage. Dances: 'Don't Stop': Queen (band) - Don't Stop Me Now, 'Sandman': Metallica - Enter Sandman, 'Black': Amy Winehouse - Back to Black, 'Give Me': Suzi Quatro - "If You Can't Give Me Love"
  6. ^ e-doce by la-performance
  7. ^ Monters' Tea Party at YouTube
  8. ^ dance outside the lines Dance classes
  9. ^ Move Magazine SL at issuu SL Dance Magazine MOVE
  10. ^ Dance Calendar SL Show Calendar
  11. ^ Dance Queens SL Dance Info