Technology to Transform You


Western Oregon University is the leading university in the Pacific Northwest to work with the latest technology including immersive fiber optics, dances with drones, and dance for the camera.


Our dance faculty members have experience with cutting-edge technology and allow you to explore the latest in the confluence of dance performance and technological innovation 


Timothy Cowart developed and curated an annual screendance concert for 14 years. This screendance concert featured award winning films from around the world, interviews with selected artists and directors, and an adjudicated 24 hour Screendance contest. He has taught dance for the camera coursework, has served on panel discussions regarding the role of dance film higher-education curriculums, and has served as both a pre-screening and final adjudication judge for the New York Dance Films Association’s Dance on Camera Festival. 


Darryl Thomas has been an internationally recognized performer and choreographer and he regularly utilizes cutting edge technology in his choreographic works. As the co-artistic director of Rainbow Dance Theater he seamlessly blends technological innovation with the latest in coding, immersive fiber optics, dances with drones, and costumes that respond to sound and movement. In addition to creating dance works that combine dance and technology he also teaches workshops and lecture-demonstrations that teach kids how to code by getting them to choreograph on kinetically responsive devices. Darryl has been working with the National Science Foundation Advancing Informal Science Learning (AISL) to use West African dance and drum integrated with autonomous drone flight (aerial dancing) as an arts intervention paradigm to engage 6th – 12th grade students in the Technology component of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).


Les Watanabe is the director of Cine-Dance Productions, LLC which began in 2002 and specializes in videography. In this capacity he has worked with dancers in New York, Los Angeles and Portland. He teaches course work in Choreography for the Camera here at Western Oregon University and has created several promotional dance films for the dance program. He continues to create screendance works and his films are winning awards in international dance film festivals


WOU Coursework that Combines Dance and Technology


FYS Illuminating the Code of Dance – 4 cr

This course will explore the parallels between dance and coding and will culminate in creating and an iPuppet dance using basic tools from dance choreography, illuminated puppet pieces, and basic coding skills.  No previous dance or coding experience is needed.


FYS Dancing Drones – 4 cr

This course explores the use of the exciting intersection of dance, coding and flight, culminating in the creation of a drone dance using basic tools from dance, choreography, aeronautics, computational thinking and coding. No previous dance or coding experience is needed. 


D 460 Dance and Technology – 3 cr

Introduction to the use of desktop multimedia applications and peripherals applied specifically to dance production and the creative process.


D 456 Choreography for the Camera – 3 cr

Advanced study of choreography tailored to individual student interests with applications to dance for the camera work.  Includes interdisciplinary, site-specific and/or collaborative formats.



Recent Publication

Here is a recent article about the benefits of the cross-disciplinary approach to teaching dance and computer coding that was written by dance faculty member Professor Darryl Thomas in collaboration with Division Chair of the Computer Science Division, Breeann Flesch, and Associate Professors Camila Gabaldon, and Matthew Nabity:

Choreographing Increased Understanding and Positive Attitudes towards Coding by Integrating Dance  


Darryl Thomas and Rainbow Dance Theatre’s work with STEAM

Rainbow Dance Theatre’s work with STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) Education has been extensive and inspiring. More and more, tech industry employers are seeking people with skills in innovation and creative thinking. STEAM education fosters creativity and helps prepare students to solve complex problems. STEAM education requires non-traditional and often cross-disciplinary ideas that encourage adaptive approaches to solving problems. 


iDance Mobile Code Lab

Our iDance Mobile Code Lab travels to both urban and rural Oregon communities to promote digital literacy and a love of coding through dance. We are bringing our proprietary dance and coding programs to public schools throughout Oregon. We are providing STEAM based learning activities to kids regardless of their socio-economic background, gender or ethnicity.


Aboard the iDance Mobile dance and coding lab is several laptops, electronic puppets, costumes, drums, props, drones, and the components to design, fabricate and code wireless costumes. A team of dance artists, who code will use all of this to reach out to 15,000 Oregon students across the following counties: Baker, Clatsop, Coos, Crook Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Lane, Lincoln, Malheurm Marion, Marrow, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, and Washington. 


ePuppet iLumiDance & Coding Workshops

This workshop combines dance and coding through an hands-on experience in which students learn coding skills in conjunction with using their bodies to choreograph the movements of a 5-foot segmented stickman to a musical score. The workshop is designed to teach logical and computational thinking skills, to demonstrate the fundamental principles of programming, and to serve as a fist exposure to the JavaScript programming language. 


Djembe Drum & Coding Workshop

The djembe, originally from West Africa, is a rope-tuned skin-covered goblet drum played with bare hands. Students in this workshop learn the KuKu rhythm from Guinea, West Africa on a djembe augmented with LEDs and a microprocessor. Students learn JavaScript to code individual LED patterns that respond to the sound frequency of their individual drum. Students collaborate on a culminating performance that features a West African rhythm played on djembes with sound responsive LEDs. 


West African iLumiDance & Coding Workshop

Durning these workshops students learn a traditional West African dance from Senegal. The students use JavaScript (text-based) to code a series of LED patterns on their electronic dance (eDance) costume that respond to the sound of the drum. The workshop culminates in a performance that features student dancers in eDance costumes with LEDs that change in response to the life drumming accompaniment. 


iLumiDance Revealed K-12 School Assembly


This 50 minute K-12 school assembly offers a behind the scenes view of how dance and technology are integrated to create illusions and special effects in contemporary dance theatre work. iLumiDance Revealed is a fusion of tour-de-force virtuosic dancing and cutting-edge computed technology. Repertory Dance Theatre dance artist reveal the computer technology (coding and electronic hardware) used in the creation of wearable technology (programmable EL wire costumes and puppets) for dance. 


Hip Hop iLumiDance & Coding Workshop

Students in this workshop learn hip hop dance steps along with JavaScript (text-based) to code dance costumes (eDance costumes) augmented with LEDs and an accelerometer. Students code a series of LED patterns that change based on the accelerometer. Students collaborate on a culminating performance that features hip hop dance and code. 


iTronDance & Coding Workshop

In this 4th-12th grade workshop, students develop coding skills as they learn to design, create and program wearable technology (LED and EL wire dance costumes) Students work collaboratively to choreograph dances the they perform in their Tron-based costumes to popular music of their choice. Performances highlight skills in computer coding as well as physical coding (choreography).


iBioDance & Coding Workshop

We use the exploration of biology to fuel the development of logical and computational thinning skills, fundamental principles of coding and exposure to the JavaScript programming language. In the iBioDance & Coding workshop 4th-12th grade students integrate biology, coding and dance. 


Drone Dance & Code Workshop

In this workshop students explore the exciting intersection of dance, coding and flight, culminating in the creation of a drone dance using basic tools from dance, choreography, aeronautics, computational thinking and coding. Students collaborate on a culminating performance as they code the Tello EDU drone for autonomous flight (dance) to a sound score. Students develop creative problem-solving skills as they merge principals from aeronautics, code and dance int eh creation of this “unmanned aerial ballet.”

Drone Dancing Summer Camp with Darryl Thomas

Darryl Thomas teaching drone dancing camp at Linn-Benton Community College