Events » SHARE Conference Aarhus 2014 » Research Presentations » The Body as Subject: The Transference of Socio-Political Conflict from Land to Body

Beatrice Jarvis

The body as subject:  The transference of socio-political conflict from land to body. 

University of Ulster
/ University of Kingston

How far can choreography can be used a as a social method to investigate cultural practices through embodied spatial use.

This research explores choreography as a method to explore and expand the movement of bodies through urban space. The fundamental questions behind this work are:

How far do the movements of the body embody and frame critical debates regarding the position of the body in society? How does the moving body become a social conduit for the critical conditions which culturally and politically it endures? How far does social and political conflict and structure affect the daily movement patterns of the body; and how far can the practice of choreography become a social application to highlight and reflect and these actions.”

Choreography functions as a tool for analysis to cultivate an awareness of patterns of movements within and beyond their social context. Three practice based research studies are proposed within my research with the following aims; 

• To explore the parameters and various extensions of the limitations of choreography as a social practice.
• To develop a knowledge contribution which interrogates the use of choreography as form of social dialog?
• To generate a means to explore varying social consciousness as to the position of the body through performance based tasks in the context of conflict and reconciliation.
• To develop a mode of choreographic practice to explore choreography as social conduit through developing a series of workshops and performances as means to create extended social dialog.

This paper presented for my PhD viva explores the expanding definition of choreography as a social practice. Stemming from practices in 1960’s USA choreography, as a creative practice, has grown to enable practioners to function as social catalysts in environments where the body can become powerful symbol as to the conditions which it endures as either a process of socio-political conflict or a process of reconciliation. My empirical research will focus on a series of choreographic ‘workshops’ which enable participants to reflect upon the social situation which they live through.

The originality of this research lies in the choreographic techniques which will be deployed in this research in the form of three methods:
1. Developing a practice of social choreography: Choreography as social workshop ( performance generated by subjects, led by researcher)
2. Choreography as social apparatus: Choreography develop in unity between researcher and location subjects as informal physical embodiment of location ( Photographic documentation as social resource of performance)
3. Personal practice of embodied social choreography: Choreography developed from quotidian observation and interaction with location to form movement vocabulary ( performance generated by researcher; reflection by research subjects in location)

Choreography within this research becomes essentially a technique of life world embodiment; relying on physical action as a schema for essential expression as to the endurance of the body in situations of mild to extreme social conflict. The social context of each research location is explored through movement; essentially interpreting the social context through the apparatus of choreographic practice.  Working with trained and non trained dancers is an important issue within this research; and one which has not been overlooked; rather I assume the stance of neutrality towards codified technique; seeking to promote practices of authentic movement which means ultimately any formal dance training becomes of less significant as I am seeking test choreography as tool of universal expression; which extends beyond the codified dance training; that may in some ways lead to the curbing of authentic embodied expression.

My research root stems from a personal desire to expand the field of choreography to become a social medium; beyond the field of dance; whilst utilising traditional choreographic concepts to engage a choreographic discourse; this research borrows key aspects of qualitative research method to expand the nature of the enquiry to a more social field of understanding.

How can the act and practice of an application of choreographic frame be utilised as spatial and social research methodology; how far does the process by which choreographic data and process is collected and re-presented enable sociological understanding to be cultivated?

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