Research team

Research Centre for Visual Poetics

Expertise

- Research on the relationship between dance history and contemporary dance, with a specific focus on practices of re-enactment - The reiterative nature of live performance in relation to (embodied) documentation, archivization, and historiography - The transcultural circulation of dance across different continents, with special interest in the migration of choreography through different spaces and times - New methodologies for dance historiography, including collaborative forms of making history and using these as input for contemporary dance practices and dance research

CoDa | Cultures of Dance - Research Network for Dance Studies 01/01/2020 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

This research network wants to provide a vital stimulus for the expansion and anchoring of dance studies in Flanders and Europe. Even though Flanders is internationally known as an important hub for dance, this domain has still not acquired the same institutional embedding and visibility within the Flemish academic context. Research on dance is currently highly fragmented and mainly takes place within university departments that do not focus specifically on dance, but rather on other branches within the humanities, such as (art) history, cultural studies, theater and film studies, philosophy, sociology, or media studies. This interdisciplinary connection with other research domains is characteristic of dance scholarship, but the actual potential of this interdisciplinarity can only be fully exploited through a common network that enables dance scholars to bring their different methodological approaches into dialogue with each other. The national and international research units that are members of "CoDa | Cultures of Dance" bring together at least three fundamental pillars that are still too often treated separately in contemporary dance studies: (i) dance as an aesthetic practice (micro-perspective); (ii) dance as a sociocultural phenomenon (macro-perspective); (iii) dance and embodied knowledge (intra-perspective). Combining these perspectives enables the development of new interdisciplinary methodologies that increase both the scope and depth of dance studies. In addition, the research network allows to bring together the expertise of both national and international partners and to immerse future dance scholars in a top-level research environment through training activities, Spring Schools, or networking opportunities. With these and other initiatives, CoDa will make a significant contribution to expanding both the visibility and existing expertise in dance research at Flemish and other European universities within the international field of dance studies.

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Moving with(in) Language: Kinetic Textuality in Contemporary Performing Arts. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2021

Abstract

Traditionally, text and language have been central elements on the theatre stage. The first and foremost function of these texts was 'mimesis'. 'Mimesis' describes the use of the drama text as referring to, or evoking an external reality. Through the text the actors pronounce, characters of all sorts can emerge. Today, a broad range of theatre, performance, and dance practices do not employ texts for mimesis, but rather for kinesis. These texts do not imitate reality, but generate movement, because they are uttered in a distinctly rhythmic manner, and because the performers' bodies start to move on the rhythm of these texts. This project will offer the first, in-depth study of this recent tendency by examining how contemporary theatre, performance, and dance artists are rethinking the interaction between text and movement in ways that prevailing interpretative frameworks in academic research on the performing arts can hardly account for. The increased interest in what this project calls 'kinetic textuality' necessitates a different perspective on the relation between language and movement, that illuminates its underlying aesthetic strategies and makes the intertwinement between text and motion comprehensible.

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Trading Dance: Transatlantic Currencies in Belgian Postwar Choreography, 1958-1991 01/10/2017 - 31/08/2021

Abstract

The recent history of Western postwar dance is often construed as a one-way narrative in which the center of artistic innovation moved from the United States of America to Europe from the 1980s onwards. This stereotypical view, however, disregards the transatlantic exchanges that underlie this shift and rather reproduces what has been called the "American Century," a period that roughly started around 1900 and which marks the supposedly sweeping dominance of the United States across the globe. This project will provide a much-needed corrective to the predominant historicization of postwar dance by tracing how transatlantic currencies have been instrumental to the field as it stands now. Taking the dance scene in Belgium as an exemplary test case to investigate the formative influence of the mutual relationships with the USA, the project will illuminate a hitherto understudied part of dance history from a perspective that considers both local and international tendencies. Starting from the 1958 World Exhibition in Brussels, the period under scrutiny will run until 1991, the year when the American choreographer Mark Morris ended his term as Director of Dance at the Brussel's Royal Theatre La Monnaie and was succeeded by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and her company Rosas. Combining dance aesthetics and cultural history with archival research and in-depth interviews, the project will offer the first thorough historical study of transatlantic currencies in postwar choreography.

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