SCHEDAR: Safeguarding the Cultural HEritage of Dance through Augmented Reality

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick


Dance is an integral part of any culture. Through its choreography and costumes dance imparts richness and uniqueness to that culture. Over the last decade, technological developments have been exploited to record, curate, remediate, provide access, preserve and protect tangible cultural heritage (CH). However, intangible assets, such as dance, has largely been excluded from this previous work.

UNESCO states in its 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) that ICH is a mainspring of humanity's cultural diversity and its maintenance is a guarantee for continuing creativity. However, modern factors such as globalization and the massive movement of people have diminished the unique culture of many communities, and indeed there is a now a very real risk that many types of ICH may disappear forever.

Recent computing advances have enabled the accurate 3D digitization of human motion. Such systems provide a new means for capturing, preserving and subsequently re-creating ICH which goes far beyond traditional written or imaging approaches. However, 3D motion data is expensive to create and maintain, encompassed semantic information is difficult to extract and formulate, and current software tools to search and visualize this data are too complex for most end-users.

SCHEDAR will provide novel solutions to the three key challenges of archiving, re-using and re-purposing, and ultimately disseminating ICH motion data. In addition, we will devise a comprehensive set of new guidelines, a framework and software tools for leveraging existing ICH motion databases. Data acquisition will be undertaken holistically; encompassing data related to the performance, the performer, the kind of the dance, the hidden/untold story, etc.

Innovative use of state-of-the-art multisensory Augmented Reality technology will enable direct interaction with the dance, providing new experiences and training in traditional dance which is key to ensure this rich culture asset is preserved for future generations.

Planned Impact

The project is uniquely placed to have an impact on a wide ranging sectors of the society, including researchers, dance experts and non-specialist members of the society that have an interest to learn how to dance or just about dance in general. The straightforward nature of the systems developed will facilitate even the non-expert general public to be able to engage intuitively with the dances, ensuring the outcomes of this project will be widely accessible. Interested parties ranging from national bodies to local communities will be able to safeguard their nuances of any dance, preserving it holistically for future generations.

This project's vision is that the widespread availability of cultural content in digitized forms is a critical necessity for the preservation of the continuity of our heritage and identity as Europeans. In such a context, digitization and online availability of digitized cultural content, such as dancing, has always been a top-level priority for cultural preservation. Digital storage and manipulation of intangible forms of cultural assets, such as dance performances, offers a whole new range of opportunities in the educational context by allowing integration of our project outcomes with the large-scale online libraries (such as the EUROPEANA repository; the European digital platform for cultural heritage). This will allow not only potential storage of intangible assets, but it will also enable seamless integration with existing resources into frameworks that will be able to exploit the common knowledge representation schemes and be used to provide unprecedented amounts of digital cultural resources by means of recent and emerging technologies for new and exciting educational purposes.
Description The University of Warwick's main contribution started in October 2019. The system for capturing live dancers (Morris dancers in the first instance) was developed. After a delay due to the COVID pandemic, dancers were finally captured in 3D in July and September 2021. This data is in addition to the preliminary data of medieval tanning re-enactments which was captured outdoors in the Forest of Dean in September 2020.
The results of the capture of the Morris Dancers was included in the final report of the project which finished on 30 November 2021 -after a 6 month extension due to COVID.
Exploitation Route The system developed for capturing real people doing activities and including these into a head mounted display can be used by others. It has now been shown to work for capturing dancers in 3D in addition to re-enactments of cultural heritage activities - such as Medieval tanning, dyeing, and weaving using the same techniques.
The techniques could also be used to capture any other "live activity" and deliver it to a virtual environment.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The findings have been used to record a number of activities, including re-enactment of Medieval tanning, weaving and dyeing, and Morris dancing, dynamically and in 3D.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Creative Economy,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Showcasing Coventry's medieval weaving within Coventry's City of Culture Built Environment exhibition
Amount £1,485 (GBP)
Organisation University of Warwick 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2021 
End 05/2021
Description Capture 3D data of medieval tanning activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The purpose was to use the 3D capture techniques developed in the SCHEDAR project to accurately capture 5 different medieval tanning activities. These activities were performed by re-enactors from the REWILD project in the Forest of Dean. The equipment was taken to the Forest of Dean and the re-enactments captured in situ.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
Description Engagement with The Morris Federation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The activity included meeting with members of The Morris Federation, watching dancing at the Warwick Folk Festival and taking part in a training session.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Meetings with Medieval Coventry Trust 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The meetings were to present the results of the SCHEDAR project so far and to investigate how these can be used to assist with the activities of the Coventry Medieval Trust in creating virtual environments of Medieval Coventry industrial activities, such as weaving, dyeing and tanning. The plan is to link this with Coventry City of Culture 2021 activities. Future funding will also be sought to support this joint activity.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
Description STEM advisor for local school 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The purpose is to help Year 4 children at a local school (Crackley Hall) in designing and testing their cars for the Jaguar Primary School Challenge. The engagement involves discussing the principals of aerodynamics, considering the different designs, testing them and providing feedback based on the testing results.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Tutorial at EG-GCH 2021 conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A tutorial on the results achieved in the project were presented at the Eurographics Symposium on Graphics and Cultural Heritage. The audience were researchers and general cultural heritage practitioners. The goal was to show the audience how to capture dynamic human movement in 3D.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021