Interdisciplinary choreography research “Architecture + Dance” explores the coupling of the two arts in the process of creating.
Person in charge:
Professor Chara Kalaitzidou [NTUA Architecture School – Dpt. III: Architectural Language, Communication and Design / Painting Lab]
Angeliki Stellatou [Choreographer, Dance teacher]
“Architecture + Dance” research explores a theoretical correlation, as well as a practical permeation of both arts in the process of creating, stimulating artistic creation from the creator’s own sense of space and movement. The research draws on the creator’s perceptive singularity, considering artistic creation as a medium of self-exploration and communication.
Its experiential methods attempt an empathetic, as well as kinaesthetic understanding of the figurative space, symbolism and abstract structures that govern an artistic idea. Encoding this understanding in abstract geometry (architecture), an unrevealed, structural incorporation of architectural design within dance composition is proposed.
Drawing on R. Laban’s description of what drives the creator towards producing action (“Antrieb”) and based on the reasonable thought that “movement creates space”, the research suggests a practice-based methodology that transforms the “inner movement” a creator may feel, while capturing an artistic idea, to figurative performance space.
Both Dance and Architecture require an imaginary design of each other in the process of creating, as they involve the designing of tangible, as well as intangible spaces through body movement. Since movement creates space, a realization of how space and movement are perceived through a creator’s body becomes essential. The fact that our body perceives, creates and understands space and its dynamics in an empathetic, as well as kinaesthetic way, makes creation of spaces a very somatic, yet quite personal procedure, motivated by the creator’s inner sense of rhythm and movement. So, any kind of movement is not only captured dynamically in the form of an artwork, but also constitutes a basic component of its synthetic process, affecting the “nature” of its idea, structure, rhythmic order and harmony, thus defining the “architecture” of the dance piece.
Starting from the study of synthetic theories of architects and choreographers while writing my academic dissertation in 2011, the research moved to an experiential level and is constantly developing through practice during the past four years, having as a main concern the search for the empathetic orientation of the creator’s “inner movement” and the manifestation of its kinaesthetic impact during the process of creating.
Three autonomous research cycles have been conducted so far, each one of them reflecting on the previous work and at the same time pursuing development within a different context:
- The first cycle (2015) gave birth to 1st “Architecture + Dance” workshop on solo composition. Drawing on the dissertation, it attempted an experimental path from theory to practice, encoding principles of the architectural synthetic theory into interdisciplinary dance compositional tools.
- The second cycle (2016) explored two research paths, interacting in parallel and enriching each other for one year: 2nd “Architecture + Dance” workshop on solo composition (a feedback-oriented research workshop) and creation of lecture performance “Human Constructions” (personal choreographic research). The experiential part of the research was born during this cycle and some new interdisciplinary synthetic tools were found.
- The subsequent third cycle (2017) included the 3rd “Architecture + Dance” workshop on group composition. Forming a multidisciplinary team of dancers, architects and composers, it achieved not only the permeation of the three arts in the dance making, but also the grounding of the experiential part and its successful integration into existing and new interdisciplinary compositional methods as well.
Concluding, a research methodology pursuing the empathetic and kinaesthetic tracking of an artistic idea could now be outlined for further examination and development. The ability of our body to use its awareness and memory not only for perceiving figurative worlds, but also for creating them, motivates me strongly to pursue how empathy and kinaesthesia could operate as our insight “vehicles” of perception and intuition during artistic creation.
My present practical methods include studio-based choreographic research and a feedback-oriented choreography workshop, where the material of the research is shared within the artistic community, inviting other artists to develop their work through the suggested research paths.
Creative practice starts with the experiential part, which is based on the theoretical background of the research, inviting the creator to become familiar with it before sensing the abstractness of his/her idea. At first, it stimulates and exercises body and space observation, the exploration of the body’s inner sense of movement, the empathetic understanding of one’s actual and emotional space, as well as the kinesthetic understanding and visualization of other bodies, objects and abstract ideas.
This process is concluded by an organic transition to reflective writing and drawing, by means of abstract (non-representative) geometry. Towards the end, the experiential work is focused on the pursued artistic idea. The finally obtained imprint operates as a transition “map” to the subsequent synthetic part, where principles of architectural design are embedded in dance composition through improvisation.
The parallel theoretical fields that share concepts with my work are:
- Dance/architecture theoretical research focusing on dance composition (Dr R.Sara)
- Phenomenological and psychological theories about how our body perceives space and movement such as: Gestalt theory, Body image theory (S.Kontaratos, P.Schilder), Body memory (E.Kassey), Empathy (M.M.Ponty) and Kinaesthesia (Bastian, Gibson, J.Scott)
- Artistic evaluation and interpretation of non-representative (abstract) drawing and sculpture (W.Kadinsky)
- Psychology of symbolism (Gestalt, R.Arnheim)
- Dramaturgy in Dance and Music (J.P.Lucas, C.Lignelli)
The artistic fields explored in my creative practices are:
- Interdisciplinary compositional practices between the fields of Architecture, Music and Dance (Dr R.Sara)
- Experiential artistic practices aiming at visualizing, embodying and reflecting on the “inner movement” of the body (Skinner Releasing Technique)
- Dance/music composition based on non-representative drawing/sculpture.
- Site-specific research (D.Hannah, C.Brown)
- Collaborative practices of dance and music composition
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