is hanging around in space and being somewhat conscious of it. Time just does
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Movement in space
Movement of all kinds of things
Of all things which are in the room, bigger things like table and chairs,
smaller things like paper and vitamin pills.
Movement in the body of arms, legs, head and organs.
Choreography is the staging of all those movement sequences in space.
It is made for observation.
What happens to one's thoughts while watching is part of the experience.
A movement sequence is determined by certain parameters.
E.g., agreements and rules can be parameters.
For a choreography which develops further there hardly are any tools on which
one can rely, but that's exactly what's interesting about it.
Time plays an important role.
Mostly, there is a beginning and an end.
The borders may dissolve;
between commonplace and virtuoso, between on
stage and not on stage, between
the working process and the presentation, between beginning and end.
Choreography is like setting out on a journey.
To a place one doesn't know, where one doesn't really know where it is. That
one will get lost is quite certain. Perhaps one will never get where one wanted
to go in the first place. Perhaps one will find something interesting on the
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and through what is choreography created? (As practice, or with the observer.)
Permeation of materials. Those materials can be: Body, feeling, language, text,
concept, thought, sound, image/film, situation. Permeation means investigating
oscillation, dynamics, relations of tension. Let those widen, spread out in
space and time. Translate them into rhythms and intensities. Let those overlap
or collide. Intervals come up, transgressions, re-establishments. Every
material, every medium has the potential to dance. There are many possibilities
of sorting dispersing sense stimuli, or to have them sorted. I desire something
different from choreography than an intellectual synthesis of recognition and
presentation. It transcends that. And when it does so, it connects with the
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Choreography as Operationalisation of Body
in Dance/Theatre Research.
The term ‘Choreographie' derives from
‘choros' = place of a round dance, dance place, dance group, and ‘graphein' =
writing. In France, the term is first used near the end of the 16th century
(Arbeau, Thoinot. Orchésographie. Langres, 1588) meaning the notation of
dance steps and patterns by means of conventionalised word abbreviations. In
the course of the 18th century, the term's meaning changes; it now stands for
the invention and composition of steps and patterns (whose notation is still
possible, but not imperative); cf. e.g., Grand
Larousse de la langue francaise. Tom.I. Paris, 1971; Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Deutschen. Bd.I. Berlin, 1989.
In my opinion, it would be a necessary and
rewarding undertaking of dance research to investigate more closely the
structural relationship between ‘writing' and ‘inventing' body movements in
space, as manifested in the history of the term ‘Choreography': Such an
analysis would counteract the externalised usage which first of all understands
choreography topographically – as ‘the technique of distributing and arranging
individuals in space' (cf. e.g., Hravtin, Emil. "Die Topographie des Balletts".
Wesemann, Arnd (ed). Jan Fabre. Frankfurt
am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1994, 95-104, here: 95) -, a usage which
probably has developed because movement documentations and/or inventions among
other things become visible as spatial patterns. This understanding of
choreography does not put enough stress on the strategy of moving (and its
dynamic relationship with writing, as documentation or discourse) which always
has been necessary in order to produce topographically perceptible results.
… Which would mean …:
Choreography functions as a non-verbal model
for comparison and even contrast with other theatrical construction types like,
e.g., dramaturgy as well as it can be defined along its connections (which yet
have to be determined more exactly) with other historical and discursive strategies
(e.g., performance, gender role, formation of motoric identity). Its systematic
discussion now seems to me to be an important desideratum of a kinetically
orientated dance/theatre research because it reflects the medium of movement.
I would like briefly to delineate possible
historical and structural markings with regard to term and usage of
choreography with four examples from dance history (dance in the 18th and 19th
century, beginning and end of the 20th century). Contrary to the usual approaches
to understanding choreography which dwell on its formally structuring qualities
or its usage as a metaphor referring to dance in general, these four sketches
read choreography as a complex, sharply discerning medium – as an operation, a
procedure which can be determined methodically stringent and effective with
regard to cognition by way of its different, conceptual as well as
materialised – treatment of movement in the reference system of knowledge,
writing, and inventing.
The choreographic procedure practised in the
baroque era is defined by the meaning of the composition or re-composition of
steps and gestures used like props – as a normative analogy of remembering on
the one hand, and writing and performing on the other hand. Thus, body
movements in space organise according to a tablature (here: the absolutistic
one) until body and movement become aware of their inherent capacity.
The 19th century among other things
exemplifies a choreographic procedure in which notation and performance show a
relation to remembering less explicit than to the idealised transformation of
whole-body movement. The balance, harmony as space-conscious embodiment is
corporeal and choreographic technique at the same time, implicating the
potential for dynamisation of the precarious stability, for productive
This tendency becomes concrete, e.g., when
the transformation of existing material – like, e.g., since the beginning of
the 20th century – for the invention of new movements individualises and thus
makes new ways of putting it into writing necessary.
One has to observe that in
all the models and phases of history here delineated, the understanding of
choreography synthesises the reference system knowledge, writing, and invention
of body movement within cultural contexts. Currently the deconstruction of
this up to now valid synthetic structure takes place by organising it as a
combinative game, i.e., it isolates the single factors and detaches them from
the traditional commitment to the reference system. According to this
perception, which in contemporary theatre practice and probably quite commonly
is called post-structuralist, the term of choreography is implicit in the
discursivation of movement if one reads movement itself as radicalised
choreographic procedure. The discursivation of movement therefore mirrors a
possible tactics of ongoing choreography as much as it commands retrospective
and current theoretical cognitive potential, which is relevant with regard to
the discussion not only of choreography, but of all theatrical strategies
dealing with non-verbal means of presentation.
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is both the considered structure and the visible pattern of moving bodies in
space and time. Choreography is not limited to that which is rendered visible.
Choreography is the authority of phenomena; it seems to contain within itself
the totality of movement expression. Choreography is a trace-work of feeling in
time. Choreography is that which connects the animate to the inanimate, the air
to the ground, the living to the dead. Choreography is the impossible attempt
to re-move the paradox of the stillness inside movement. Choreography is a
transaction of flesh, an opening of one body to others, a vibration of limits.
Choreography is given to the erotic: it tests out, seduces, and proposes
without ever saying anything. Choreography is a corporeal passage in which the
body is both a question and an inaccessible answer. Choreography is the
indecipherable language of bodies presented for interpretation. In choreography
the negative comes into presence: the unseen shimmers, the unheard whispers,
the unfelt is caressed and we intuit the unknown. Choreography is a space of
transformation, where the instrumental becomes sublime. Choreography is a fluid
experiment: an encounter between the habitual and the unexpected. Choreography
cannot be opposed to improvisation, just as in theatre one cannot oppose
writing to the event. Choreography exists within the temporality of open
reiterations: it is always now even if it was done before.
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Michikazu Matsune & David
Von: Michikazu Matsune
Gesendet: Dienstag, 11. September 2007 19:41
An: David Subal
hope you are fine wherever you are at this moment.
It has been a while since we saw each other last time. And as always, every
time we meet, we are so busy that we don't really have time to talk. I am
writing to you for no special reason:
I just want to tell you that it would be nice if we could go and dance together
next time you and me get together. It would be also nice if we could realize
the weekend drive we've been talking about in the Austrian countryside this
autumn. Oleg is very much looking forward to joining us. That will be a very
nice reunion of us three.
p.s. I attach a picture of Jennifer. We usually take a walk in the morning to
Von: David Subal
Gesendet: Freitag, 14. September
An: Michikazu Matsune
Betreff: Re: Was ist Choreografie
so good to hear from you. Really. Specially cause of no special reason.
Hope you're fine and
your lovely ones too.
By the way, shit about
the key. I'm really sorry.
Everything was a bit
Yes, Oleg's weekend
should be done. Definitely.
No picture to send these days.
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Considering the various and numerous
definitions of choreography, I intentionally keep mine very simple and rather
"classical": For me, choreography means a reflected order of movement in space
But – and it is this which
makes our discipline so intriguing – movement in this formula stands as a
pulsating placeholder for many things: Thinking, energy, gesture, rhythm – just
to name a few. With this, the field of possibilities consciously and
consequentially is expanded into infinity. And that's very good for the future
of our field …
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