The 15th Nordic forum for dance research
Moving, relating, commanding: Choreographies for bodies, identities and ecologies
In the 15. NOFOD conference we want to address choreography’s acute cultural and socio- political relevance in the face of worldwide protesting and a global pandemic. Choreography holds a capacity to exert and impose power, but also to identify, investigate and undermine it. As “a plan or orchestration of bodies in motion,” choreography provides knowledge about movement and its regulation: how moving bodies are arranged, fixed, ordered and manipulated.1 At the same time, choreographic knowledge enables analyses of such regulation and its embodied defiance.
André Lepecki has referred to choreography as a system of command, but with what forcefulness do different instances of choreographic commanding impose themselves on bodies? What room do they leave for interpretation? Is the commanding a subtle nudge, an authoritative order, a suggestion, a manipulation and – not least – what are the alternatives to obeying it? How can we invent, explore and insist on them? And what sanctions do different choreographic systems put in place to punish those who stray from the prescribed path? We want to use the conference as a forum to explore the relevance of such questions in a variety of social, artistic and pedagogical contexts.
Susan Foster points to choreography’s resonance with enduring cultural values concerning bodily, individual, and social identities. This can be seen in choreographic productions and reflections of notions of gender, class, age and race, but also of community, beauty, authenticity or professionalism.2 Furthermore, current crises regarding both COVID-19 and the protests against police brutality arguably emphasise an impossibility to detach choreographic power from its socio-political context. Such power becomes palpable in limitations of movement and mobility. With very different motivations and degrees of force, citizens are choreographed in restrictive, unfamiliar manners in their navigation around each other in public space. The global pandemic also affects interactions in the private sphere with close ones in newly crowded homes. Inter-personal encounters necessitate new modes of enquiring consent about what constitutes an intrusion into personal space, as well as a new or appropriated set of gestures to perform affection.
Dance and dance studies have conceived of choreography as detached from the moving human body for some time. Works such as Mette Ingvartsen’s Artificial Nature Series or William Forsythe’s Choreographic Objects are examples of such a ‘rupture of the body-movement bind.’3 If we understand ecologies broadly as addressing relational processes that concern living on this planet, choreographies play a significant ecological role. But how exactly can we grasp the choreographic in those negotiations of reciprocal agency that characterize ecologies? How does choreography figure ecologically? By including notions of choreography as expressed not in dance, but in objects and architectures that direct human and non-human movement, we want to open the conference to scholars and practitioners who work in the proximity of dance and dance studies and explicitly invite architects, designers, scenographers and fashion scholars to participate.
As a framework, a strategy, or a set of instructions, choreography also figures in the field of dance pedagogy. How does choreography frame education? Teaching situations almost inevitably entail power dynamics. Can these only be challenged by abandoning choreography altogether? If choreography, in the traditional sense, was meant to direct dancers in how to move and what to do, can’t choreography also facilitate disruptions of such instructing and directing? Steve Paxton suggested that contact improvisation can challenge hierarchies in the choreographic process – how can choreographic practices today be taught with respect to shared ownership and flexible creative roles?4 (How) can choreography be employed as an emancipatory tool? (How) can chaos and freedom be choreographed in educational settings? Participatory practices have moved from the art scene into schools where artists, teachers and children move playfully together. Here, choreographic strategies might be useful in providing adults with frameworks within which they can redefine the role of the teacher.
After an expanded notion of choreography has been researched for some years now, the 15th NOFOD conference wants to explore its renewed current relevance. We, furthermore, want to give a platform to showcase how this strand has developed in the Nordic countries and explicitly open dance research up to other disciplines. We therefore invite contributions that transcend dance (studies) as a discipline, as well as contributions that explore practical modes of research to propose contributions on these, but not only these, topics:
Choreo-writing and choreo-reading Choreography as ecology Choreographies of play and creativity
Production of choreographic knowledge and choreographic methodologies
Choreography and community; choreography and participation
Props, costume and scenography /scenographics as choreographic
Choreographies of gender; designing bodies
Choreographies of the everyday; tacit knowledge
Choreography and archiving; movement transmission; historical choreography
Choreopolice and choreopolitics (Lepecki); choreographies of conformity, choreographies
of protest, marching
Architecture; city planning, drifting; psychogeography; exploring alternative paths
human movement; inter-species choreographies; robotics
We embrace a plurality of approaches to the conference theme and look forward to welcoming you to the Danish National School of Performing Arts, host of the 15th international NOFOD conference 17 - 20 June 2021.
Gerko Egert, dance and theatre studies scholar, Institute for Applied Theatre Studies, Justus- Liebig, University, Giessen.
Mette Ingvartsen, choreographer, dancer and researcher based in Brussels (tbc)
Third keynote speaker (tba)
The NOFOD board welcomes a range of proposals for presentations:
- Paper presentations: 20 minutes + up to 10 minutes discussion - Lecture-demonstrations: 60 minutes
- Roundtable discussions and conversations: 60 minutes
- Movement workshops: 60 minutes
If you are interested in contributing in another format, please specify in your proposal your requirements and whether the format needs 30 minutes or 60 minutes.
Please send your proposal in the form of an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short bio (100 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 December 2020.
The exact participation fees will be announced once we have a better idea of the conference’s funding situation. If possible, we will give out bursaries to emerging scholars and independent artists presenting their work.
1 Susan Foster, Choreographing Empathy. Kinaesthesia in Performance (London/New York: Routledge 2011), 15.
2 Susan Foster, “Choreographies of Gender,” Signs 24, no. 1 (1998): 5 and Foster, Choreographing Empathy; Andrew Hewitt, Social Choreography: Ideology as Performance in Dance and Everyday Movement (Durham and London: Duke University Press 2005).
3 Bojana Cvejic, Choreographing Problems. Expressive Concepts in Contemporary Dance and Performance (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).
4 Ali B. Duffy and Alison Beaty, “Flexibility of artistic roles and shared ownership between dance educators and students in choreography and performance,” Research in Dance Education 20, no. 2 (2019): 130-147.