Like many of us, Kristin Wagner took a lot of “pandemic walks” over the last few years.
Wagner, who helped found the seven-person dance collective The Click in 2021, came up with the idea for the group’s first project after walking through a QR-code-based installation project along the Mystic River that same year. The Click’s “Emotive Land,” uses a new app to combine tech and dance for an interactive tour of the Charles River.
The final product will be available to the public from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30 in Cambridge’s Kendall Square Canal District, and will kick off with a free, one-hour live performance by The Click’s dancers.
For “Emotive Land,” Wagner enlisted her brother-in-law James Peerless, a software engineer, to help create the app that visitors can use to view “Emotive Land.” The app guides users to eight tagged locations along the Charles River — a segment of the river’s floating wetlands, for one, and a corner of the boardwalk.
Once visitors reach a highlighted location, the app prompts them to hold up their camera, and then plays a film featuring a dance specially designed to fit each location. The app uses augmented-reality technology to superimpose green screen dance sequences onto the real location viewers are standing in.
Peerless explained that the app “enables a new way to experience these performances with a lot more flexibility.” “You don’t need to be there at any particular time, and you don’t need to pay for a ticket,” he said. “Anyone who has the app can go to this location and walk along the Charles river and experience these performances.”
Lonnie Stanton, head curator and choreographer of the project, is eager to give more people access to dance that’s set outdoors and in nature. She’s the kind of person who will see a traditional performance on a stage and ask “what happens if I see that amazing ballerina [dancing] on a bench?”
Due to the pandemic “we’re getting used to seeing dance outside more — to me, that’s exciting,” Stanton explained. A lot of her choreography is “all about tension” she said: between nature and man-made industrialization, or between technology and embodiment. She’s staged back-and-forth duets set at an industrial building overcrowded with weeds or a side of the boardwalk filled with discarded trash.
“The vines and things growing between the fences in an urban setting is beautiful to me and shows the strengths and power of nature and how it will persist,” Stanton explained.
Wagner is attuned to the tension between the deeply physical art form of dance and virtual technology.
“There’s so much that cannot be experienced and felt through a screen in my opinion, and just knowing the power of live performance, I hope that never is taken from us,” Wagner said. “I don’t want to lose this thing that I love,” she said of dance, “but I think you’re equally as likely to lose something if you don’t change, too.”
Through this project, she’s been working to find “harmony” between loving live performance and adapting to the digital age. The central question of “Emotive Land” seems to be, as she put it, “How do we prioritize both” live dance and tech, “instead of one or the other?”
The Click’s live outdoor performance will take place at 15 Broad Canal Way in Cambridge on Oct. 1 at 1 p.m., with a rain date at 1 p.m. on Oct. 2. The free “Emotive Land” app will be accessible via www.theclickboston.com, and the Apple App and Google Play stores Oct. 1.