Julia Ogrydiak’s Multimedia Worlds

Late one night, violinist and MIT alumna Julia Ogryzdiak looked outside the window of her Oakland loft and saw an unusual sight. “I saw all these kids practicing choreography with fire on their heads,” she recalled at Wednesday’s lecture-demonstration. This would be the beginning of a new collaboration with dancer Jodi Lomask, the Artistic Director of Capacitor Dance, resulting in several dynamic multimedia performances involving dance, sound, and visual imagery to explore scientific phenomena. Ogrydiak, a conservatory-trained classical musician, said experiences like this one shifted her outlook; she became just as interested in the winding — and often messy — creative process as the final product itself. Since then, she said, she’s more comfortable “ with embracing the unknown and the unexpected.”

With Capacitor Dance, Ogrydiak played the violin in “Okeanos,” a “multidisciplinary portrait of the ocean as body, environment, resource, metaphor, and force […] to inspire and educate audiences about the ocean and connect them deeply to ocean conservation,” according to the organization’s website. The performance involved the collaboration with notable marine biologists and oceanographers, such as Sylvia Earle and others from the Academy of Science in San Francisco and the Monterrey Aquarium. In the show, Ogrydiak was a striking force. Functioning as a “one person Greek chorus,” as she said, her goal was “to convey a feeling of fastness and wildness, to make you feel the water itself.”

Using multimedia technologies, Ogrydiak is interested in creating “a synthetic reality, a complete immersive experience,” such as in “Dark Blue Sky Dream,” at Oakland’s Chabot Planetarium, which transformed a traditional recital into a multi-sensory extravaganza. She has also worked with the composer Keith McMillen to demonstrate his K-Bow, a hand-crafted wireless sensor bow that “expand real world soundscape of the violin and allow it to grow in infinite directions and possibilities.”

Now, Ogrydiak is currently collaborating again with Capacitor and the composer Andrew May to put on a revamped edition of “Flock,” a piece part of the larger project “Biome” inspired by “the cooperation that occurs between different species in nature.” The choreography of the performance translates the flocking behavior of birds into dance, and will premiere at Oakland’s abandoned 16th St. Station. At the lecture-demonstration, audiences were treated to an electrifying sneak preview of this nascent work designed to capture the “visceral feeling of being inside the flock.”

Posted on May 9, 2013 by Anya Ventura