qiudanz technique: mode 1

an introduction to the qiudanz technique: playing with movement sequences, and computationally transforming them.

video: intro to qiudanz technique mode 1


the following are notes meant to guide a short introductory workshop to the first mode of the qiudanz technique.

we are going to be playing with movement sequences. these sequences will consist in combinations of a very limited set (or vocabulary) of actions.

we will learn some rules to manipulate these sequences.

there will be some guided activities to get acquainted with these rules, but the whole idea of this technique is for you to start playing with it in your own way :)


the idea here is to have fun and connect with movement-based joy. it gets more interesting with the computational aspects, but the moving aspect is the most important one!

throughout all the following activites and games, i invite you to keep a continuous bounce.

in my experience, doing that is very energizing even if there's no music present.

it can be as big or small as you want; as smooth or awkward as you prefer. let's just enjoy!


in mode 1 we will be playing with three types of moves:

IN is about joining the palms of the hands away from the trunk of the body, and bringing them together towards it.

DEH is about crossing and then uncrossing the forearms.

SHOW is about using one hand, palm facing upwards, offering it to a person in front.

let's bounce a little bit and practice these movements :)


our sequences will consist of combinations of these moves.

the FIRST movement in a sequence is called the HEAD, and the LAST movement in a sequence is called the TAIL.

when notating a sequence, the HEAD will be at the LEFT, and the TAIL will be at the right.

we will normally use square brackets to indicate a movement sequence. for example:

[ + - - + - ]


the three names of the movements we just covered, IN, DEH and SHOW, are also the names of three different actions to take regarding our movement sequence.

we can think of them as instructions.


IN and DEH indicate what we will call "transformations" of the movement sequence.

DEH (-) indicates that we should REMOVE the HEAD movement from our sequence.


IN (+), that should always come accompanied by another transformation movement, indicates that we should APPEND that movement as a new TAIL.

in mode 1, IN can be accompanied either by DEH or by another IN:



SHOW (.) indicates that we should perform our complete movement sequence.


it is also used as a way to yield the turn to another person, or to indicate the end of the sequence.

creating and transforming a first sequence

in the beginning, we are only bouncing, and our sequence is empty:

[ ]

first instruction

we receive a first instruction:

+- .

we can read it as IN DEH, SHOW. it means: append DEH to the TAIL of the sequence, and then perform the complete sequence.

our sequence, that we would perform, would be now:

[ - ]


appending more movements

we receive another instruction:

++ .

IN IN, SHOW: append IN to the TAIL of the sequence, and then perform the complete sequence.

the sequence, that we would perform now, would be:

[ - + ]

afterwards, we receive:

+- .

IN DEH, SHOW; and our sequence would be now:

[ - + - ]

if for example, we receive:


SHOW; then we would perform the sequence again as is, without transforming it.

spicing it up

let's try it with more instructions:

- .

DEH, SHOW: we remove the current HEAD from our sequence:

[ + - ]

we receive another IN IN, SHOW:

++ .

which makes our sequence look like:

[ + - + ]

and then we receive DEH, SHOW, three times, that reduces the size of our sequence until it's empty.

we'll write the state of the sequence after each instruction:

- .         [ - + ]
- .         [ + ]
- .         [ ]

when the sequence is empty, we just keep bouncing.

the complete "program"

the following are the instructions that we received in this first test:

+- .
++ .
+- .
- .
++ .
- .
- .
- .

and this is the same list of instructions, but accompanied with the state of the sequence after each one:

+- .        [ - ]
++ .        [ - + ]
+- .        [ - + - ]
.           [ - + - ]
- .         [ + - ]
++ .        [ + - + ]
- .         [ - + ]
- .         [ + ]
- .         [ ]

this is getting interesting, isn't it?

even though our sequence was never longer than three movements, the sequence of sequences (or meta-sequence) started to be somewhat complex and fun to perform :)

conversation game

let's play a little bit with what we just learned!

in this game of pairs, one person performs a sequence, the other repeats it with an applied transformation, and this continues back and forth.

it is also valid to repeat the sequence as is.

therefore, the set of four valid operations to apply in this mode, are:

- .
+- .
++ .

there's no need to say or indicate what was the applied operation.

always finish the sequence with a SHOW (.) to indicate that it is the other person's turn.

if possible, try to be aware of how the conversation unfolds. is the sequence growing too much? is it always too close to being empty? what kind of operations are easy to follow?

a small example

supposing that the pair of people consists of X and Y, the following illustrates the beginning of a possible conversation, indicating the sequence that each of them peforms:

X: [ + ] .
Y: [ + - ] .
X: [ + - - ] .
Y: [ - - ] .
X: [ - - - ] .
Y: [ - - - + ] .
X: [ - - + ] .

tape and guide game

an implication of having the same names and symbols to either encode a movement or a transformation, is that one can dance a set of instructions!

in the tape and guide game we also have a conversation but now each person has a different role.

the tape person will remember, transform, and perform the movement sequence, and the guide person will move in order to wordlessly indicate an instruction to be applied.

in a first level of complexity, the guide can only perform one of the following four instructions for the tape:

- .
+- .
++ .

the tape should always finish their sequence with a SHOW that indicates that they are ready to receive a new instruction.

a small example

the following illustrates a possible conversation between a guide (G) and a tape (T).

G: +- .
T: [ - ] .

G: +- .
T: [ - - ] .

G: ++ .
T: [ - - + ] .

G: .
T: [ - - + ] .

G: - .
T: [ - + ] .

G: ++ .
T: [ - + + ] .

G: - .
T: [ + + ] .

G: .
T: [ + + ] .

try this game alternating who is the guide and the tape each time!

target and more

a possible variation of either of both games is the target game: start with a given sequence, keep in mind (or in sight) a target sequence, and apply transformations to try to arrive to that target.

for example, you might start with:

[ - - - - - ]

and the target could be:

[ + + + + + ]

even though it might be interesting to look for a fast (or the faster?) set of transformations, it might be even more fun to not arrive at the target sequence directly. what if you both make the sequence oscillate before arriving to the target? what if you find a very rhytmic or complex way to arrive?

these are just some ideas for keeping the practice of this first mode.

the next modes will include more movements (and therefore transformations), so it will be great to be fluent in these first ones already!

let's have some fun!

incoming links