The Catherine Wheel (BBC)


Inside a 14th century cathedral in Scotland, dancer Sara Rudner meets the animated form of Saint Catherine, the patron saint of teachers. This computer graphic becomes one of the earliest to perform alongside a live action counterpart on television, as St. Catherine teaches Rudner the first steps of the choreography.

The Catherine Wheel was recorded for television by the BBC and later distributed on VHS. Tharp collaborated with Rebecca Allen, then a member of the New York Institute of Technology - Computer Graphics Laboratory, to create the animated, dancing human figure.

Additional special effects and cinematic techniques - a glowing pineapple, film played in reverse, superimposed images of spinning fireworks -  were incorporated to enhance and reinforce the symbolism.


  • Catherine Wheel (BBC)
    VHS cover ©Twyla Tharp
  • Catherine Wheel (BBC)
    Tharp watches a monitor during filming. ©Paul B. Goode
  • Catherine Wheel (BBC)
    The cast and crew on set. ©Paul B. Goode


Excerpts from the BBC production of The Catherine Wheel featuring the use of early motion capture technology.  
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