Architecture + Dance (2011 -2019)

Practice-as-research project “Architecture + Dance” explores a permeation of architecture in choreography, considering movement as the only condition for creating space, and space creation a primarily embodied process of self-exploration and communication. Stimulating artistic creation from the creator’s own sense of space and movement, the research deploys the concept of kinaesthetic empathy to develop an original dance/architecture choreographic practice allowing a structural translation of architectural design into dance composition and applying to dance, performance, physical theatre and, possibly, to other time-based arts.

more about “Architecture + Dance” research

Person in charge:
Sofia Kondylia
Research advisors:
Professor Chara Kalaitzidou [NTUA Architecture School – Dpt. III: Architectural Language, Communication and Design / Painting Lab]

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 an embodied and quite personal procedure, motivated by the creator’s inner sense of rhythm and movement (inner movement). For this reason, the inner movement of the creator is acting motivationally and intuitively throughout the whole synthetic process, affecting the “nature” of its idea, structure, form, rhythmic order and harmony, and activating the work and the space around it – many times in absentia of the creator.

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”. The experiential part of the research was born during this cycle and some new interdisciplinary synthetic tools were found.
  • The subsequent third cycle (2017) was focused on group composition and included the one-month 3rd “Architecture + Dance” workshop and the five-day instant composition workshop commisioned by Akropoditi Dance FEST 2018. 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 and autonomy of its experiential part and its successful integration into existing and new interdisciplinary compositional methods as well.
  • 4rth cycle of the research (2019) included site-specific (BodIS) and site-sensitive (Mapping Bodies) collaborative choreographic work, along with a pedagogical research trajectory, developed in both works within the same mixed aged (13-55) cast of four dancers and five preprofessional dance students. How dramaturgy of space inspires dance dramaturgy and choreography and vise versa was the main focus of this research cycle, which was pursued by bringing together and working through spatial structure experientially, deploying the kinesthetic methods developed during cycle 1-3.

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 the feedback-oriented Architecture + Dance choreography and performance 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
Indicative bibliography
  • Andre Lepecki, “We’re not ready for the dramaturge: Some notes for dance dramaturgy”, 2011
  • Susan Leigh Foster, “Choreographing Empathy: Kinesthesia in Performance ”, Routledge, 2010
  • Profeta, “Dramaturgy in Motion: At Work on Dance and Movement Performance”, 2015
  • “Dramaturgy and architecture: theatre, utopia and the built environment”, by Cathy Turner, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015
  • H.J. Schneider, “Empathy, Imagination and Dramaturgy”, “Empathy: Epistemic Problems and Cultural-Historical Perspectives of a Cross-Disciplinary context”, edited by Vanessa Lux, Sigrid Weigel, 2017
  • Ray Miller, “Dance Dramaturgy: Definitions, Perspectives, Projections”, The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater , Edited by Nadine George-Graves, 2015
  • “Rethinking Dramaturgy”, edited by Manuel Bellisco, Maria Jose Cifuentes, Amparo Ecija, João Paulo Lucas, César Lignelli, “Dance, Music and Dramaturgy: collaboration plan and dramaturgical apparatus”, Brazilian Journal on Presence Studies, Universidade de Brasíli, 2016
  • Bloomer K.C. & Moore C.W., ‘Body, Memory and Architecture’, New Haven
    and London, ‘Yale University Press’, 1977
  • Casey S.E., ‘Remembering – a phenomenological study’, ‘Indiana university
    Press’, USA, 2000
  • Le Corbusier, “Towards a new Architecture”, translated by Frederick Etchells, Dover publications, 1986
  • Kadinsky W., “Point and Line to Plane”, Dodoni, 1996
  • Pallasmaa J., ‘The Eyes of the Skin – Architecture and the Senses’, ‘Wiley’
    press, 2005
  • Merleau-Ponty M., Phenomenology of Perception, Routledge, 2013
  • Scott J., ‘Kinesthesia’, London: Laban Centre for Movement and Dance,
    unpublished doctoral dissertation, 1997
  • Laban R., ‘Choreutics’, ‘Macdonald & Evans Ltd’, London, 1996
  • Laban R., ‘Espace Dynamique’, ‘Contradanse’, Bryxelles, 2003
  • Sukruti Jain, “DANCE & ARCHITECTURE: Choreographing Engagement between Body & Space” dissertation, 2017
  • Sara, R., “Between architecture and dance”, “Moving Sites: Investigating Site Specific Dance and Performance”, edited by V. Hunter, Routledge, 2015 
  • Hunter V., ‘Experiencing Space – The implications for site-specific
    performance’, ‘Contemporary Choreography – A Critical Reader’, edited by Jo
    Butterworth and Liesbeth Wildschut, ‘Routledge’, 2009
  • “Performance Design”, edited by Doritta Hannah and Olav Harslof, Museum Tasculanum Pres, 2008
  • Carol Brown, “Making Spaces, Speaking Spaces”- “The Routledge dance studies reader”,edited by Alexandra Carter and Janet O’Shea, Routledge, 2010
  • Vicky Spanovangelis, “Choreography & Architecture Performance Research
    topographies & topologies of space in the ‘emersion’ research project” – Draft for OUTTOPIAS catalogue, 2016
  • Robin Nelson, “Practice as Research in the Arts: Principles, Protocols, Pedagogies, Resistances”, Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2013
  • “Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry”, Edited by: Estelle Barrett, Barbara Bolt, I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd., 2007

Until now a large group of artists, colleagues, organizations and audiences  have embraced the research with their participation, contributing to its progress substantially – a fact for which I feel extremely thankful.

On May 2016 “Architecture + Dance” research received the authorization of the General Meeting of NTUA School of Architecture (dean: Mrs E.Maistrou) and the School’s support for organizing one presentation to its students integrated in the academic curriculum in December 2016 and one presentation to NTUA Lavrion Technological and Cultural Park in July 2016.

Trial + Error” Crossarts research group
residential support  & co-production

“Aktina” Professional Dance School, Art Factory – Texnostasio, National Museum of Contemporary Art,  “Isadora & Raymond Duncan” Dance Research Center, Athens Concert Hall, O.P.A.N.D.A. Municipality of Athens, Lavrion Technological and Cultural Park, Vault theater plus, Greek Choreographers Association, Municipal Theater of Piraeus, Romantso Cultural Center, Egomio Cultural Center, Nordic Fringe Network, Stockholm Fringe Festival 2017, Teater TR3, Dance Days Chania 2017, Dance Fest Akropoditi 2017, Keratsini-Drapetsona School of Art, ANIMART school-forum-festival, Municipality of Hydra, Hydra Arts Lab, of Common Benefit Enterprise of Hydra Municipality, Trial + Error cross arts research group

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