Geo-Gestures seminar series offered by the Performance Lab

from April 29, 2021 to October 28, 2021

From April to October 2021 with specialists in dance, geography and performance

The ways in which we research and document the performative stirs up questions of agency and materiality for researchers in the arts and social sciences. In site specific performance and fieldwork when we examine place, not only as a location, but as an action, we shift our attention to the relational variables of spatio-temporal scalarity, agency, and politics. Within the context of the Performance lab we are interested in the ways in which geography and site specific dance both challenge questions of embodied positionality and push the ways in which bodies are cultivated through the spatiotemporal qualities of multiple sites.

The Performance lab conference series looks at how these disciplines challenge the performative by displacing and placing new material and conceptual frames of reference in the fields of geography, performance and choreography. Choreographers and geographers are both interested in the ways in which humans interact with space and place, yet the choreographer has a blind spot in terms of spatio-temporal scalarity, and the geographer often ignores the granularity of the kinesthetic.

Since the 1990s geographers associate the global and local interactions as spatiotemporal relational scales. This is grounded by a profound shift in the ways in which distance and proximity are framed. As such the ways in which the place and role of the body is taken into account and studied have profoundly changed. On the one hand, embodied relationships are now a topic of research, and on the other, the geographer’s bodily agency needs to be taken into account.

Since the mid 1990s dance studies has addressed the ways in which embodied agency is informed by the researcher’s kinesthetic literacy and its situated condition. Today we ask if our bodies both carry and re invent kinesthetic experiences, then how does practice based research enable new insight into our understanding of the body as multisite?  How do we think through the ways in which bodily gestures criss cross physical, temporal and spatial borders ? How does the performative relation of place challenge the ways in which bodily movement is mapped, materialised and later described?

To address these questions the conference series invites specialists from dance, geography and performance to address the ways their recent research projects entangles the material and performative in their field work, theoretical and methodological invention and academic scientific production.

Program of  Geo-gestures conférences

> Thursday April 29 (ONLINE) - Performing Undergrounds

Speaker: Harriet Hawkins, Co-Director of the Centre for GeoHumanities at Royal Holloway, University of London and the Director of the Techne AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership
Harriet Hawkins is a member of the Geography and Environmental Studies expert sub-panel. Her research focuses on the intersections of geography, art, creativity, aesthetics, and the imagination. She explores how creative practices can contribute to critical contemporary issues - such as the current and future use of underground spaces, and engagements with climate change. Her current research project, THINK DEEP, is funded by a five-year European Research Council consolidator grant.

> Thursday June 3 (ONLINE) - Choreographed Geopolitics: Contemporary Cambodian dance and the politics of nationality

Speaker: Amanda Rogers, Associate Professor in Human Geography and the Geohumanities at Swansea University, UK

Amanda Rogers researches the geographies of performance and the performing arts, particularly theatre and dance. Her current work focuses on post-conflict performance cultures in South East Asia and their relationship to the poliitcs of nationality. She is particularly interested in contemporary Cambodian dance and how it expresses, and is embedded in, history, culture and identity. In 2020-2021 she holds a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship and an AHRC GCRF main grant on this topic and is currently writing a monograph provisionally entitled ‘Choreographing Cambodia’. Amanda Rogers’s previous research has focused on the transnational connections between Asian American, British East Asian and South East Asian theatres, examining how the politics of identity and migration affect creative practice. This work was published as a monograph in 2015 entitled Performing Asian Transnationalisms: Theatre, identity and the geographies of performance. She has previously held ESRC and British Academy postdoctoral fellowships and a British Academy-ASEASUK-ECAF fellowship. She is currently the research secretary of the Association of South East Asian Studies U.K. and sits on the board of Papertrail Theatre Company in Cardiff.

Program of the 3rd June to download

> Thursday June 24 (ONLINE) - Christine Douxami - Transforming, creating, or how to experience your Other... intimacy?

Speaker: Christine Douxami, Researcher in anthropology of art at the Institut des Mondes Africains (IMAF), Lecturer at the University of Franche-Comté in the performing arts, currently on delegation to the IRD-Brazil.
Christine Douxami  was trained at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Grenoble before going on to obtain a DEA and a PhD in anthropology at the EHESS. Her work, at the junction between theatre and anthropology, seeks to consider the forms of engaged arts linked to the issues of negritude and pan-Africanism in the light of these two disciplines and her artistic practice as a performer and director. Her fieldwork is carried out particularly in Africa (Burkina Faso-Senegal) and in Brazil through various festivals and various stage performances both in places officially dedicated to art and in the street. Since 2006, she has been co-organising a seminar at the EHESS on the theme of artistic engagement in art on the African continent and its diasporas. She also works on political and artistic issues related to the nomination of Intangible Heritage in Brazil as well as on the question of trance. She co-directed a feature film on the third edition of the World Festival of Black Arts in 2010 and also looked at the participation of Brazil in the 1966 and 2010 editions.

Program of the 24th June to download

> Thursday September 30 (ONLINE) - VK Preston - A Symphony Cascades Downwards: Research Creation and a Dramaturgy of Reopening

Speaker: VK Preston is an Assistant Professor at Concordia University’s History Department and faculty member of Philadelphia-based University of the Arts’ internationally situated Dance MFA program.
VK Preston's research examines intersections of dance and history through approaches in historiography and research creation. VK is an Assistant Professor of History at Concordia and PI for “New Directions in Seventeenth-Century Performance Research: Intangible Baroques” (SSHRC-IDG). Their work appears in TDR, Theatre Journal, Imagined Theatres, Notes for the School for Temporary Liveness and other venues. VK works as dramaturge with Caroline Gravel’s Practical Happiness, a Song and Other Niceties and as affiliate faculty with the University of the Arts, Philadelphia's MFA in dance. VK’s work arises from a background in performance practice and has received recent article prizes including the Dance Studies Association’s 2018 Gertrude Lippincott award and an honorable mention for the 2021 Gerald Kahan Scholar’s Prize from the American Society for Theatre Research.

> Thursday  October 28, Room C5 Live Arts Lab - Fact, form and meaning in dance

Speaker: Carrie Noland, Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine. 
Carrie Noland's research focusses on modernist poetry and poetics, phenomenology, dance,  performance studies, and postcolonial theory.  Her publications include Migrations of Gesture (Minnesota, 2007), co-edited with the anthropologist Sally Ann Ness, Agency and Embodiment (Harvard UP, 2009), which extends her work on textual poetics into the realm of corporeal poetics, or the act of making meaning with the body and most recently After the Arbitrary: Merce Cunningham, Chance Operations, and The Human Situation on Stage.
In this lecture, Carrie Noland will explore what Cunningham meant by 'the facts in dancing'.  She asked herself this question after accompanying the Lyon Opera's 2016 recreation of Winterbranch (1964). Her paper is based not only on an in-depth study of Cunningham's 'Choreographic Notes', but also on interviews with the dancers of 2016 and with the filmmaker, Alla Kovgan, who re-interpreted the dance for her film Cunningham (2019).

See Laura Fanouillet's French translation of the introduction to her book Agency & Embodiment: Performing Gestures/Producing Culture (Harvard University Press, 2009) in the journal Recherches en danse de l'association des Chercheurs en Danse: (published online on 21 October 2021).
Published on October 22, 2021