From 19-21 May, a group of European researchers and practitioners from the ‘LABO21’ platform for research on artistic methodologies met at the Centre for Dance Research at Coventry University and Warwick Arts Centre. The partners of this inter- European programme include Wayne McGregor | Random Dance (UK), BADco (Croatia), Jan Fabre/Troubleyn (Belgium), the International Choreographic Arts Centre (The Netherlands) and Coventry University’s Centre for Dance Research (UK).
At the meeting, project leaders reported on their artistic processes that cross fields of philosophy, cognitive psychology, biology, technology and performing arts. Nikolina Pristaš and Ivana Ivkovic from BADco reflected on the importance of the spectator in their works, for example in the transfer of a recent gallery dance project calledFleshdance inspired by the paintings of Francis Bacon into a multimedia installation. They questioned how to imply the contact between performer and spectator that was central to the live performance in the screen-based installation.
Bertha Bermudez from the International Choreographic Arts Centre in the Netherlands explained the process of revealing pre-choreographic elements in the work of choreographer Emio Greco through a complex process of generating a multi-modal lexicon for the choreographers work and testing the elements in the studio to analyse the qualities of movement. The group discussed how a choreographer’s practice constantly changes, so that the idea of a mutating online glossary was formed with the potential to shift in an ongoing dialogue.
Ellen Van Beek, representing Jan Fabre’s work, shared her methods of recording and analysing the mechanical effects of the company’s training practices through capturing data on the muscle activity of the performers. This research emerged from questions around why and how the training methods work and aims to share the processes with other practitioners. The ways in which training works through physical technique, language, imagery and the creation of ‘states’ in the performer was discussed by the group.
Scott deLahunta from Wayne McGregor | Random Dance & Coventry University presented plans for a major exhibition in London being developed in cooperation with the Wellcome Collection which will display the long-term collaborative research on the company’s choreographic processes. The temporal issues of performance were brought up, with the group putting forward the idea that a gallery exhibition allows the audience to take in elements at their own pace, which offers different perspectives from the intensive attention and temporal compression in a live performance.
The meeting moved to Warwick Arts Centre to engage with dancers and researchers from Wayne McGregor | Random Dance Company. Phil Bernard gave a lecture on a model of the brain in cognitive psychology and how elements of this could be used in the choreographic process, such as in altering habitual patterns. The group also watched the dancers, researchers and education team exploring a workbook on choreographic thinking tools which will be used as part of the primary school curriculum.
Finally, the group worked together on ideas that BADco had generated on a ‘post-hoc dramaturgy’, an in depth artistic methodology, proposing that the approach would be an interesting way to bring the projects of the partners into alignment. LABO21 is supported by the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).