From Friday 10th to Sunday 12th July 2015, dance artists and scholars from around the world came to Coventry University to attend the third annual Dance and Somatic Practices Conference, hosted by the University’s Centre for Dance Research (C-DaRE). As was expected, the weekend was rife with enthusiasm and passion, as a packed programme of presentations, panel discussions and workshops brought to life the contemporary discussions surrounding somatic informed dance practices.
The focus of this year’s conference was Ethics and Repair: Continuing Dialogues Within Somatic Informed Practice and Philosophy. The aim was to consider the ways in which somatic informed dance offers answers to a number of questions. These included:
- How might the corporeal or material enable change through what has been termed ‘small acts of repair’ (Hinson) or what might be understood as ‘cellular consciousness’ (Bainbridge Cohen)?
- What are the ethical dimensions of this way of being in the world?
- How do we articulate these understandings and what does the field not yet know?
- And how might the legacy of somatic informed dance practices shape future understandings of ethics and repair in the 21st Century?
The first keynote of the weekend came courtesy of performer, choreographer and writer, Susan Kozel. Her talk, entitled Performing Encryption: a somatic approach to the practices and urgencies of contemporary archiving, was incredibly well received, with one Twitter user describing it as “phenomenal”.
Following this, attendees had the choice between three or four different sessions running at any one time. On Friday, these included a workshop on the Gaga Technique, a panel discussion on ethics, education and training, and a workshop and presentation on the Creative Articulation Process (CAP). In the evening, attendees were invited to enjoy a solo dance performance by Fiona Wright, and a live music jam.
On the Saturday morning, attendees could either network and enjoy refreshments together, or jump right in with a Soma in the City workshop. Topics explored throughout the day included The Ethics of Jamming and Affective Touch in Somatic Dance Practice in Health. The entertainment that evening comprised of a film showing of In the Bell’s Shadow, followed by a Q&A.
The conference was rounded off on the Sunday with another rich schedule of events. Highlights on the third day included a performance by Kramer & Mainz ‘the sheep are not black and not white’, a panel talk on Cultural Dialogues and a talk from the second keynote speaker Emilyn Claid, who spoke on Back to Basics – Embodying Relationship.