“Women with Wings: The Romantic Ballerina Then and Now” is a research project led by Professor Nora Foster Stovel, that examines the classical ballerina in 19th-century Romantic ballets that constitute the Golden Age of Romantic ballet, 1830-1890, and its impact on culture today. This interdisciplinary project addresses relevant cultural issues: psychology and folklore, gender and sexuality, dance and the body, fashion and femininity, literature and film, and video games.

iGiselle developed from the Women with Wings project and took a unique approach to video game development. We worked with local dancers in a studio setting with a green screen backdrop. By photographing real ballet poses to represent the technical skill and realistic dance movements within the game itself we use the language of traditional ballet with the updated features of technology that allowed us to edit the required backgrounds into the game as needed. We recorded local voice actors to narrate the story bring our characters to life. An original score was created based on the 1841 ballet production. Our objective was to create a game in which the player is able to subvert the tragic narrative that befalls the heroine Giselle that allows for agency in the story and alternative endings.

A unique artificial intelligence planner was developed that takes player style into account when generating content for the player. Several rupture points in the iGiselle narrative allow players to change the course of the story, and other content is produced in response to the player’s choices.


NoraDr. Nora Stovel Nora Foster Stovel teaches Modernist literature, twentieth-century fiction, poetry and drama, and contemporary Canadian and women’s fiction at the University of Alberta. She has published numerous articles on Modernist writers, especially D.H. Lawrence, and on contemporary women novelists Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood and Margaret Drabble.
vadimDr. Vadim BulitkoProf. Bulitko leads the development of iGiselle. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999 and is currently an Associate Professor at the department of Computing Science at the University of Alberta. His interests are in strong Artificial Intelligence, creativity and cognition.
pirkkomarkula350x444Dr. Pirkko MarkulaProf. Markula is a leading social theorist in the field of sport and socio-cultural studies. Dr. Markula is also a contemporary dancer. She has conducted research experimenting with dance performance ethnography as a way of representing her research on women’s active bodies. She is also co-author of the book “Focault, Sport and Exercise: Power, Knowledge and Transforming the Self.”
Sergio Poo HernandezSergio has completed his undergraduate in computer engineering from Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey Campus Guadalajara. Currently he is pursing a Master’s degree in Computing Science at the University of Alberta. His thesis is on interactive narratives and advised by Vadim Bulitko.
Emilie St. HilaireEmilie is an intermedia artist and recent MFA graduate currently working in photo, video and installation to explore the intersections of digital technology and the physical body. She is researching the ways in which technological tools became naturalized with the body and is interested in how meditative practices relate to digital experiences.
lauraLaura Sydora

Laura is a PhD student in English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta. She completed her BA in English and Communications at the University of California Davis and Trinity College Dublin before pursuing her MA in English at the University of Alberta. Her research interests include discourses of feminism, cultural studies, and media history.
Nicole Papadopoulos headshot 2Nicole PapadopoulosNicole has been privileged to be working professionally since she was 5 years old. At 11 yrs old, Nicole moved to Toronto to train at the National Ballet School Of Canada.  Continuing her professional dance career, she fell in love with acting and singing and went to Sheridan College for Musical Theatre.  After graduating, Nicole moved to NYC and began working as an actor, singer, and dancer.Some of Nicole’s Past work includes: the lead Marie in the original cast of The National Ballet of Canada’s current Nutcracker, Caron Eule’s critically acclaimed work The Crane’s Wife in NYC’s historic Pier 66, and Bioware’s multiple award winning and record breaking videogame Dragon Age II.
sarahSarah BeckSarah is a recent Bachelor of Science graduate with a Specialization in Computing Science at the University of Alberta. Her research interests include gaming, feminism, and motion capture. Sarah is an active volunteer in several organizations promoting women’s involvement in STEM fields.