Choreographic Convention #5 – Movement Research
Curated by Iva Sveshtarova, Angelina Georgieva, Willy Prager, Stephan A. Shtereff
in the frame of Antistatic Festival 2020
The Choreographic Convention was held on 10th and 11th October, 2020 in Sofia and it was realized within the frame of the International Festival for Contemporary Dance and Performance Antistatic. The international choreographic meeting was held live, in compliance with all anti-epidemic measures and was broadcast online on the “Antistatic” Facebook page (@antistatic.international.festival).
Ever since its introduction into dance-making by the pioneers of modern dance, and especially since experimental dance collectives turned improvisation into an artistic practice in the United States in the 1970’s, movement research has generally been understood as a process of finding and generating movement material beyond existing dance vocabulary. Movement is differentiated as an essential materiality of dance, and research takes place in the body of the dancer. The body experiments with kinetic potential or appropriates movements from different spheres of life, on the basis of which it develops movement language. But movement research also operates on a much broader level, which we can only briefly outline here.
Contemporary choreography has complicated the attitude that the body and movement are the main means of expression in dance. They have been subjected to radical deconstruction, examining their culturally assigned meanings. The notion of choreography as an expanded practice has largely emancipated itself from dance and has become increasingly interested not in the individual expressiveness of the body and movement and in shaping them through various techniques, but in the relations they create with other bodies and objects in multi-layered aesthetically organized situations, as well as in their socio-political significance. Digital and dance artists have incorporated new technologies as a creative and research tool that expand the notions of bodily boundaries. Various software programs make it possible to capture, analyse and reconfigure movement in any environment – physical, virtual, visual or acoustic… The growing interest in the history of dance in recent decades has raised questions of the possibilities for archiving, researching and reconstructing the kinetic knowledge of the past.
The Choreographic Convention: “Movement Research” offered a space for dialogue and reflection on new perspectives and approaches to movement research. Over the course of two days, through talks, presentations, conversations with artists and theoretical discussions, the meeting has focused on the following main topics: movement research as an artistic practice, as a form of work with dance archives and its interactions with new technologies and in social movements and contexts. The meeting was accompanied by an artistic programme with performances related to these topics.
The first days started with official opening by the organizers Iva Sveshtarova, Willy Prager, Stephan A. Shtereff, Angelina Goergieva and welcoming words from Marina Ludeman, the director of Goethe-Institut Bulgarien.
The day continued with the keynote address by Alexandra Kolb.
“Beyond Dance: The Politics and Philosophy of Movement Research”. Keynote Address by Alexandra Kolb.
The 1960s and ‘70s period – often referred to in literature as ‘postmodern’ – is identified as a watershed moment in Western theatre dance. Following the apex of modern dance and under the influence of developments in the visual arts and other related disciplines, companies, collectives and choreographers such as the Judson Dance Theatre, Merce Cunningham and Pina Bausch took a fresh look at what dance might entail: reassessing and arguably reinventing the meaning and scope of the art form. This talk will explore the philosophical and political underpinning of this shift, focusing on the rejection of previous aesthetics by Judson in particular, and the merging of dance with everyday life. I will show how these 20th-century artists’ approaches how the social dimension of their political values left a lasting legacy for generations of choreographers, through their explorations ‘beyond’ dance in the sense of technicality or spectacle. They inspired not just conceptual dance, but 21st-century artists who have supplanted dance with movement, or used bodies as laboratories rather than instruments to achieve perfection. Specific areas considered inclusion of the embeddedness of dance in motion studies, the role of ‘minor’ gestures, and work with untrained or aged bodies.
Panel 1: Approaches to Movement Research as an Artistic Practice
What is movement research, how the term evolved over time, why and for whom it is important today? What are its dimensions – performative, choreographic, conceptual, political? What is its practical process and what approaches do authors develop in order to rethink and share the results of their research? How to orientate on the map of contemporary dance and choreography – what are the institutions supporting risk and experimentation? The panel presents the points of view of artists from different disciplines and countries.
Moderator: Yasen Vasilev, Participants: Galina Borisova (Bulgaria), Kroot Jurak (Estonia/ Austria), Lily Wittenburg (Germany), Thomas Lehmen (Germany)
Panel 2: Movement Research and Dance Archives
Documents materialize the ephemeral and transitory movement. They give us access to the past and help us shape our knowledge and understanding of movement practices and aesthetics. What defines a document of movement as such, what is its status as a source for writing dance history, how has the notion of dance archives expanded in the last years and what is the potential of movement research in the frame of reenactments to reimagine the dance canon? These are some of the questions to be tackled in this panel by dance historians, researchers and an artist.
Moderator: Angelina Georgieva (Bulgaria)
Participants: Isa Wortelkamp (Germany), Corina Cimpoieru (Romania), Rok Vevar (Slovenia), Sasa Asentic (Serbia/Germany)
Panel 3: The Potential of the System
Technology radically provokes the notion about body boundaries and our spatial relationships, while choreography finds a way to incorporate them as a creative and tool for research in the performing arts. What different approaches for generating and exploring movement in the context of contemporary choreography and performance do digital technologies create? How is the body presented in the technological environment and what idea of body movement is formed through computer proto-calculations? These topics will be discussed in the frame of the panel by artists developing their own systems for interaction between body and technology in the field of performance and contemporary choreography.
Moderator: Venelin Shurelov (Bulgaria)
Participants: Antoni Rayzhekov (Bulgaria), Marco Donnarumma (Germany)
Panel 4: Protesting Body in Different Social Movements and Contexts
Standing still – slowing down – amidst a wave of civil unrest or in the hectic rush of the everyday; synchronizing movements in collective action or circulating gestures in between physical and medial space: ranging from organized mass movements to small-scale acts of resistance, bodies and their symbolic and affective force have always been at the core of creating alliances and forcing people to take notice of overt and systemic injustice. In dialogue with contemporary and historical examples, the panel brings to artists and thinkers from different disciplines to discuss how protest is made by choreographic and performative means.
Introductory statement: Sandra Noeth (Germany)
Participants: Ivaylo Ditchev (Bulgaria), Ole Frahm (Germany), Taoufiq Izeddiou (Morocco)
The international choreographic meeting was accompanied by an artistic programme with performances related to these topics.
On 10th of October was presented the performance Goldberg Variations, performed by Jurij Konjar (Slovenia). A post-show talk with the artists moderated by the bulgarian choreographer Galina Borissova.
On 11th of October was presented the dance production „dragON aka PONY” by the dancers and choreographers Aleksandar Georgiev, Zhana Pencheva and Darío Barreto Damas aka STEAM ROOM.
Gallery pictures by Christian Vidkov & Merian Nikolova