In a series of workshops at LAKE Studio Berlin, dance artists can ponder on the relation between theory and practice. Choreographer Mårten Spangberg introduces the program.
Text: Mårten Spangberg
Perhaps the question is not whether theory and practice need each other, but rather how and in what ways their relationship can be mutual and dynamic. How can theory avoid ending up being a means to justify practice, and equally how can practice not be used to illustrate theory? Moreover, is it possible to engage in theory in ways that do not homogenize reflection, nor overlook the diversity of bodies, subjects and lives?
The starting point must be twofold, can theory or reflection be generative for the individual and boost her/his/their agency? Can knowledge, theory and analysis also be forms of engagement in or through desire and pleasure?
Reflection taking its departure point in physical practice
This spring LAKE Studios Berlin invites professional dance artists to four weekend forum events under the umbrella title “ABOUT DANCE forming futures” which will take place partly through physical presence in the studio in Berlin-Friedrichshagen, as well as online - thus making the venue simultaneously a local resource and host for an international audience.
Although the forums are announced as reflective, each weekend takes as its’ departure point physical practice. A specific choreographer’s oeuvre and related practices will frame each session and give a red line for reflection and movement.
The weekends are initiated through a physical workshop introducing the choreographer’s work, however not by the choreographer themselves (with the exception of Cristina Rizzo), but by another artist who has in-depth knowledge and experience with the practices and can pass them on with healthy critical distance - thus to an extent destabilising authorship. The practice session, that takes place in LAKE Studios, is followed by two online talks per day. These sessions present invited artists, curators, scholars, activists, and others. They consist of a statement followed by a longer conversation with the hosts (Alex Viteri Aturo, Armin Hokmi, & Mårten Spångberg) and include online participation from the audience.
Practices of freedom, care and (non-)identity
For the inaugural event on April 9 & 10, the Berlin based choreographer Alice Chauchat has been guiding the participants into practices of freedom in reference to the work of Jennifer Lacey. Currently active in Stockholm, the American choreographer, for a long time resident in Paris, has been a key figure in regard to improvisation practices in particular in relation to organisation or dis-organisation of freedom.
In the online talks following, the philosopher Henrike Kohpeiß did address relations between care, freedom and non-identity. Jennifer Yvette Terrell from University of Colorado did complexify notions of tokenism and brought them in contact with dance and the performance of identity. The performance scholar and author Ana Vujanović did discuss her upcoming book on transindividuality, and finally the choreographer Mette Ingvartsen did contemplate her practices in light of freedom and its complexity related to dance and somatics.
Relations between dance, life and the world
The following weekends’ forums focus on Simone Forti, Cristina Rizzo and the San Francisco based collective Contraband, three significant practices that open up towards different relations between dance, life and the world.
In the second weekend May 7 & 8, the Vienna based choreographer Anne Juren will give a workshop related to Simone Fortis practices related to animals and nature, which also will be the starting point for four talks given by the curator Filipa Ramos, philosophers Susane Caló and Katerina Kolozova, next to Maximilian Haas who in his research has looked at relations between dance and ecology. The choreographer and dancer Salva Sanchis will give a performative lecture around improvisation and its relation to reason and reflection.
The third session on May 21 & 22 will focus on practices of queering representation respectively arts relation to resistance and protest. The focus artist Christina Rizzo will herself give a workshop around the body as an interface and its relations to technologies of image production and representation. The third cluster of talks will focus on queer and trans identities with contributions by artists Elle Barbara and Keith Hennessy as well as extraordinary scholar and writer Jordy Rosenberg
Practices of resistance and protest
The close relation between Contraband and contact improvisation will be the ground for a workshop in the 4th and final weekend session on June 4 & 5 given by Berlin based Jorge De Hoyos. The last session’s focus is on practices of resistance and protest with talks by Stefano Harney, Julian Reid, Marquis Bey and by the acclaimed poet and author Maggie Nelson.
Part of all the events will be an ongoing reflective process of documentation with the participants in form of trailers, writings and other methods, framed and guided by dance artists Armin Hokmi, Jessy Tuddenham and filmmaker Noam Gorbat. It will later be available as an online expandable archive on LAKE Studios Berlin’s website.