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WHAT IS CHOREOGRAPHY PART 5
– Patricia Portela – Scott deLahunta – Jonathan Burrows –
Choreography is a disposition towards singular or multiple moving bodies in which a series of tensions are made to hold. It is an assemblage of visible kinetic memories and strategies that augment a body's capacity to communicate and integrate with other bodies. The terms and reach of choreography can both include and go beyond the composition of purely bodily movement. Choreography uses forms and trajectories of movement that leave a visible yet impermanent trace. It proposes a continuous series of questions (as opposed to solutions) that attempt to sustain bodies in movement in and through embodied and other processes. Like other modalities of writing, choreography can be anything in movement that can be read. It does not have to have been already choreographed. It is a physical and conceptual catalyst that negotiates between risk and control in the production of space and the exploration of physical relationships. Retrievable as interior or exterior memory, choreography is a force of potential: of what we do not know of ourselves, and of what we fear and desire in ourselves and in others. It is, like other practices, generative of meanings that oscillate between the forms, contingencies and flows of contemporary culture and its performance.
Is it organisation of movement? Is it production of meaning? Does it encircle dancing or dance? Is it the circle of movement, the radius of meaning, the auctorial instance? When Rudolf von Laban began to describe the "World of the Dancer", and then presented a work about "Choreography", and both state that everyone is a dancer (but not everyone is a choreographer) – then we have the incline prepared where overview trickles down into insight. Still, choreography should also be skill ("Come on, give us the diagonal!"). But probably only as far as writing, too, requires some skill: kinetic alphabetism; moved writing; moving writing; writing systems. Up to overdertermination: dancing unnecessary, the choreography already has said it all. Like in the advertisement brochure of Compagnie Deborah Colker: "Brazil's trendy, funky, sexy, masterly and breathtaking Companhia de Dança will remind you of the Carneval in Rio even if you have never seen it before."
What is choreography? The organisation of spaces forming between moving as well as between moving and unmoving objects. This spatialisation is created by production- and reception-aesthetic procedures, i.e., either by spatial formation (e.g., step and movement choreography of bodies) or by means of aethetic perception (e.g., body or object relations taken into view). Within this organisation, choreography puts another, relational space into the already extant, given Cartesian one; it is relational insofar as it always is related to just that preceding space (body to space), between bodies (body to body), or to virtual concepts. The latter, invisible settings of space may be emotionally charged like, e.g., the relation of the body to expressive (own) or representing (codified) emotion, or abstractly modelled like, e.g., an assumed volume of space (Forsythe: cube, Laban: icosahedron) which the body describes with its own extended extremities, and relates to its points, lines and planes of reference (kinesphere).
- choreography [kawr-ee-og-ruh-fee, kohr-] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation – noun
- the art of composing ballets and other dances and planning and arranging the movements, steps, and patterns of dancers.
- the technique of representing the various movements in dancing by a system of notation.
- the arrangement or manipulation of actions leading up to an event: the choreography of a surprise birthday party.
as usual, I am partial to the third meaning
Choreography is about movement.
And movement is about transformation,
Small and giant
Visible and invisible
External and internal.
Choreography started as a platform for the visible movement,
for the visible change.
But choreography accompanied the research on the body, the discoveries of the body.
External and internal discoveries
at a macro and at a microlevel.
A body moves when it breathes.
A body moves when it reads.
A body moves when it thinks, when it decides, when it grows, when it sleeps.
A body has other bodies that move inside: neurons, cells, particles.
But if choreography is the study of movement, it cannot be only about the human body.
Choreography is also about the movement that sorrounds us,
the planets, the stars, the cities, the rocks, the winds
alive or dead
and choreography is about movement.
The definition I would like to send you is a *recursive definition algorithm* that emerged in the early days of the MODE 05 meeting on dance education. This meeting (set up as an open self-organising format) involved approximately 25 people from the European contemporary dance scene and took place from 13-19 March 2005 at fabrik Potsdam.
Tasked with confronting the topic of dance education, several discussion lines developed rapidly. One of these momentarily settled on the need for a definition of choreography; and out of this moment and with the support of others Bojana Cvejic and I formulated the following:
"An open, contingent and procedural definition of choreography: it is something that enters into a struggle to mean something in the field of choreography. Process is inherent in this definition. We accept that a field of choreography exists as a dialogue with extant (historic) dance techniques, bodies, texts and images. And the residue of moving bodies and stages (past, present and future)."
During the course of the MODE 05 meeting, smaller groups started to form around shared ideologies and approaches. Bojana and I separated and became involved in different discussions. Subsequently, the above definition was picked up by the group calling itself "white valley grey plain" (WVGP) and now appears in print in the follow-up book titled *Reverse Engineering Education* (http://www.mode05.org/) in a short essay submitted in the name of the WVGP group (authored by Bojana Cvejic and Mårten Spångberg).
Choreography is about making a choice, including the choice to make no choice.