The Journey of Theory. Dancing the Problem

Workshop at SMASH Berlin, 3 weeks of October 2017. Participants: Camilla Oliveira, Florence Gengoul, João Rios, Marcus Louend, Nanna Stigsdatter Mathiassen, Alice Roudaire, Elvina Pinto, Jayson Patterson, Kosta Bogoievski
Artur Hiroyuki, Jess Quaid, Dominique Tegho, Flavia Zaganelli, Hanna Kanecka, Irene Anglada Espadaler, Sebastian Kann, Leandro de Souza, Tui Hofmann, Mayssan Charafeddine.


During these 3 weeks we focused on understanding which problems we are dancing to and what are the fundamental problematics that our artistic practices are built upon. This attempt  led us to reflect together on the relation between theory and practice, philosophy and art, and the role of conceptualization in dance and choreography. How to practice theory? In which way is art a form of theory?56

Defining theory as the journey abroad and returning
Our starting point was to stop understanding theory only as a production of discourse and rather to consider it as an oscillatory movement or, in other words, a journey of traveling abroad and returning. We translated this journey into the framework of our practices and research in order to trace a trajectory, step by step, distinguishing its different moments and identifying what are the risks that we undertake with our work, what is the level of exposure to danger that we tolerate and to which extent do we allow ourselves to experience uncertainty and ultimately how much are we able to translate this journey into an intelligible form to be shared within the community. This understanding of theory helped to confront the following topics: how to set up the conditions for collaboration between dance and philosophy? What is the need of conceptualizing any choreographic practice? Why is it important for an artist to be able to formulate via concepts what he/she is doing? Why should an artist be busy conceptualizing his/her work? 71213

Dancing the problem
A dance and a concept are both “outcomes” or translations from a common element: a problem. To be able to identify what is your problem as an artist or a researcher is a vital task. To look at how we dance a problem implies to identify the main driving forces motivating our journey, and to observe how our obsessions or needs become the detonator of our artistic research. To define and become aware of these personal obsessions will be one of our challenges: first we determined what makes us move, what impulses force us to dance a problem. Then we translated each others´ problems into a series of exercises, which will allow us to experience each others´ practices from tangible physical/performative situations.1415

To explore the intimate affinity between dance and problems
When does dance become a problem? When does a body that is thrown across a space become a difficulty, a puzzle, an astonishing event? The problematic body – the dance that becomes a problem – is the body whose movement generates a problem in space, a movement that implies a difficulty that hits you and puzzles you. How can a dance hit? And hit what? Another body? Or the audience’s perception? A difficult dance is not the dance that is difficult to perform, but the dance that generates difficulties, that becomes an obstacle, that paralyzes you. We practiced dance as the art of generating dilemmas, a turbulence that transforms the space into a puzzle and generates perplexity and occasionally vertigo, turning the situation into a troublesome, turbid, agitated, disordered event. We practiced choreography as the art of throwing invitations to dance, as the activity of transforming situations into dangerous domains of influence. The choreographer brings tempestuous weather on a sunny day.

We explored if the mission of articulating problems belongs intrinsically to the practice of choreography. To articulate problems implies to throw out difficulties; bodies become puzzles thrown into the distance, a difficulty transforms the scenario into a problematic dance floor. Problems turn the situation into a turbulent event, into a domain of dangerous influences. Family pictureIMG_3695TORPEDO