A revolution in dance: ISU alumna, Co’Motion Dance Theater combine technical passions



Carly Van Zomeren

Co’Motion Dance Company instructor Valerie Williams has been working on a project combining the improvisation of dance and creativity in music for 11 years.

The project, titled Z-Axis, will be showcased in an upcoming concert.

With Williams’ experience in human computer interaction combined with original compositions by Ben Allaway, the duo will be lighting up the stage at the Ames City Auditorium. 

The program will consist of three different dancers, with Williams stepping in for a few dances.

Williams is using her education and love for dance to combine movement and music by allowing the dancers to become the composers.

“I have been a fan of Ben’s music for years and have been exposed to his work through the years, so when I came upon doing this project, I thought we could work together,” Williams said.

During the process, Williams told Allaway about the type of dance they were practicing, and the expression they were trying to achieve. Then Allaway composed a piece unique, yet not too “A-tonal,” Williams said.

Williams also noted she received inspiration for dancing through technology; “using technology is this way to create music that can be manipulated by movements of dancers.” Williams has a master’s degree from Iowa State in human computer interaction and has used the education to push forward with this project.

Using a camera and special programming, the dancers move across the floor and the camera follows their moves and the music transitions and flows according to the dancers’ moves. Their images are also cast on the wall by a projector from an aerial view of what is being done on the floor.

“This type of dance doesn’t fit traditional forms of music and dance,” Allaway said.

Williams described the work as “ribbons of sound or ribbons of music,” and noted that the performance has a fair amount of improvisation.

“There is as much skill behind improv as there is behind a particular dance routine,” Williams said. “It is completely about the layers of sound and the linear experience. It’s nothing like a painting on the wall that you can enjoy by looking at it; it’s all about experiencing it.”