Choreographic practices of working together

The three-day symposium Working Together Transnationally. Structures, Conditions and Artistic Practices took place from March 31st until April 2nd in collaboration with the European Dancehouse Network. Curated together with the Brussels based sociologist Rudi Laermans and facilitated by Fearghus Ó Conchúir, about 70 international guests and participants discussed and practiced models of solidarity within and between production structures and artists, investigated possible media of collaboration and explored choreographic forms of collaboration.

The report below focuses on the third day, when participants met up in the studio for an introduction to four choreographic approaches to artistic collaboration.

Choreographic practices of working together

After discussions on the structural aspect of solidarity, as well as the binding and/or separating effects of collaboration, the third day of the symposium brought people into the studio. Two parallel workshops in the morning and two parallel workshops in the afternoon suggested methods of and approaches to working together artistically, while also involving the body on a practical level.

Eleanor Bauer’s workshop Nobody’s Business was a situational enactment of Nobody’s Business, an initiative set up by Eleanor Bauer in 2015 that wants to facilitate the sharing of practices, knowledge and methods both digitally and face-to-face. As such Nobody’s Business is an initiative for local and international exchange in the performing arts. The ambition is to facilitate the non-exclusive and collective production and distribution of practices, knowledge and methods through specific procedures or meetings guidelines. In the workshop, the participants practised collectivelly writing a text together.

Leonardo Delogu’s workshop temporary settlement took place parallel to Nobody’s Business. It tied in with his presentation on the media of collaboration on the second day of the symposium and aimed at creating a situation in which all participants collectively experience the concepts of presence, listening and cohabitation through walking. Walking in a group, having area to explore, but not a specific path to follow easily becomes an exercise in negotiation and at the same time an aesthetic and political act, and in the end an urban ritual. Thus, the workshop participants went on a silent walk together through the neighbourhood of Kampnagel. There was no indicated route, the idea was rather to find a path together by communicating through other means than words and to finally find the way back to the point of departure.

In the afternoon Eszter Gál’s workshop dance and beyond introduced contact improvisation as a dance form based on the communication between two moving bodies that are in physical contact. Thus the participants went into a shared movement research that focused on a practice of listening and responding to the changing inner and outer environment. The participants practiced relating to each other and the group with contact moves and games. Trust and safety thus turned out to be the key issues and important media of dancing together.

Drawing on the working method practiced by the collective Marble Crowd, Saga Sigurðardottir’s workshop Playing as a Way of Togetherness invited the participants to engage with the topics of the symposium through means of play, suggesting the playful as a practical approach to collaboration: Playing as a way of togetherness – of thinking together, doing together. Participants were offered a playground to “converse” in, that is, to engage with questions, impulses and ideas together through absurd tasks where the imaginative, intuitive and physical is called upon. The participants were split into three groups that alternated in observing and developing landscapes together. Cardboard boxes were offered as basic material for the shared on-going process of building, such as a clinic for Europe, a Japanese garden or a haunted house.