Dynamic Animation and Control Environment


Ari Shapiro (ashapiro@cs.ucla.edu)

Original Authors

Victor Ng-Thow-Hing

Petros Faloutsos

DANCE is a software package for physics-based character animation and simulation.

One of its goals is to provide researchers with a common platform where they can test their control methods and share their results. In addition, it provides the common, yet complex functionality that everyone needs in a physics-based animation system, allowing researchers to concentrate on their research work. DANCE has been used for a variety of physics-based applications that include biomechanics modelling and composeable controllers.


2/27/12 Updated binary version of DANCE dance_v4_binary_022712.exe available for Windows with installer. Uses ODE-0.11.1.
9/12/09 New binary version of DANCE dance_v4_binary_091209.exe available for Windows with installer.
1/22/09 New binary version of DANCE dance_v4_binary_012109.exe available for Windows with installer. This version includes the Dynamic Controller Toolkit as well as bug fixes and a non-linear controller editor.
1/21/09 New version of DANCE dance_v4_012109.zip available which builds on Windows, Linux and OsX. This version includes the Dynamic Controller Toolkit as well as bug fixes and a non-linear controller editor.
8/1/07 New version of DANCE will be available on 1/31/07. This version includes tools for controller development with scripting, modified physics, and attachments to rigid bodies. More details are available on the dynamic controller toolkit page.
7/25/06 New version of DANCE. ODE simulation with control is now very stable and can run in real time. Several other enhancements such as collisions through capsules, props, and user interface improvements. It is recommended to update your DANCE sofware to this version. Linux compilation is supported as well. New release dance_v3_072506_1625.zip. A binary version also available.
3/8/06 Documentation updated. DANCE Manual is now one PDF file that includes more information on the plugins. (download manual).
3/6/06New version of DANCE released. Now runs on Linux and Windows! (dance_v3_030606_1419.zip).
3/1/06Linux version of DANCE coming so on
1/30/06New version of the DANCE software released ( dance_v3_013006_1153.zip)


  • Import/Export of motion capture
  • Ragdoll simulation
  • Physical simulation of characters with dynamic control
  • Pose based dynamic control
  • Controller development using Python scripts
  • Non-linear editor
  • Creation of videos from OpenGL or high quality output via POVRay http://www.povray.org
  • Integrated with the Open Dynamics Engine (ODE) http://www.ode.org
  • Easy plugin interface and example code
  • All source code included


The entire DANCE system is now available for download. Please register your email address and you will be sent an email indicating how to download the software. If you have already registered you can access the download page indicated in your response email or register again.

2/27/12dance_v4_binary_022712.exeNew binary version for Windows.
9/12/09dance_v4_binary_091209.exeNew binary version for Windows.
9/12/09dance_v4_091209.zipSource code for Windows, Linux and OsX.

Linux users should also download the following libraries if they do not already have them installed:
FLTK fltk-2.0.x-r6525.tar.gz
ODE ode-0.10.1.tar.gz
Python Python-2.5.2.tgz
Lib3ds lib3ds-1.3.0.zip
ImageMagick ImageMagick-6.4.5-3.tar.gz

Older Versions
1/21/09dance_v4_binary_012109.exeNew binary version for Windows.
1/21/09dance_v4_012109.zipSource code for Windows, Linux and OsX.
7/25/06dance_v3_binary_072506.zipBinary version for Windows.
7/25/06dance_v3_072506_1625.zipAll source code. Windows (Visual Studio 2003) and Linux support.
10/29/07dance_v3_072506_1625_vs2005.zipAll source code. Windows (Visual Studio 2005) and Linux support.

DANCE Manual9/12/09 New! Tutorials, user guide, plugin development, plugin descriptions

Discussion Group

An archive of the messages in the discussion group can be found at:
To subscribe to the DANCE development email list, send an email to:
To post a message to this email list, subscribe first, then send an email to:


    Controller Development
    A. Shapiro, D. Chu, B. Allen, P. Faloutsos, The Dynamic Controller Toolkit, Sandbox Videogame Symposium, pp. 15-20, San Diego, California, August, 2007. (pdf)(videos)

    DANCE description
    A. Shapiro, P. Faloutsos, V. Ng-Thow-Hing, Dynamic Animation and Control Environment, Graphics Interface 2005, pp. 61-70, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, May, 2005. (pdf)

    Mixing kinematic and dynamic control methods
    A. Shapiro, F. Pighin, P. Faloutsos, Hybrid Control For Interactive Character Animation, The Eleventh Pacific Conference on Computer Graphics and Applications, pp. 455-460, Canmore, Alberta, Canada, October, 2003 (pdf) (videos)

    Composable Controllers
    P. Faloutsos, M. van de Panne, D. Terzopoulos, Composable Controllers for Physics-Based Character Animation, Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH 2001, pp. 251-260, Los Angeles, CA 2001 (pdf)

    Musculoskeletal Modeling
    V. Ng-Thow-Hing, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Toronto, 2001 (pdf)

Screen shot

Pose Editor png 80K


Note that all videos are compressed with MPEG-4. All videos are examples of dynamics and dynamic control developed with DANCE (i.e. no motion capture or other kinematics.)
Ducking to avoid a collision 800k .mp4
Trying to duck to avoid a collision 500k .mp4
Three dimensional jumping (interactive, using pose control)1.5mb mp4
Ragdoll1 570k mp4
Ragdoll2 1.05mb mp4
Trying to walk interactively 1.76mb mp4
Tripping on ball with autonomous walk controller 8.1mb mp4
Successful walking via autonomous walk controller 8.7mb avi
More videos on hybrid dynamic-kinematic control.

expressive posturing

skeleton attacking another skeleton

kinematic kick, dynamic reaction

kinematic kicker, dynamic goalie

ragdoll reaction to soccerball obstacle

dynamically controlled reaction to bowling ball obstacle

Dive stairs

Sit on chair

Composeable controllers

motion capture characters