Voices in Social Choreography
My methodology of “social choreography” is rooted in an attempt to think the aesthetic as it operates at the very base of social experience. I use the term social choreography to denote a tradition of thinking about social order that derives its ideal from the aesthetic realm and seeks to instill that order directly at the level of the body. In its most explicit form, this tradition has observed the dynamic choreographic configurations produced in dance and sought to apply those forms to the broader social and political sphere. Accordingly, such social choreographies ascribe a fundamental role to the aesthetic in its formulation of the political. Attempting to reconnect to a more radical sense of the aesthetic as something rooted in bodily experience, I further use the category of social choreography as a way of examining how the aesthetic is not purely superstructural, purely ideological. I do not claim that aesthetic forms do not reflect ideological positions: clearly they can and do. But they do not only reflect. My claim, instead, is that choreography designates a sliding or gray zone where discourse meets practice – a zone in which it was possible for an emerging bourgeois public sphere to work on and redefine the boundaries of aesthetics and politics.
Choreograph (v.): to arrange relations between bodies
in time and space
Choreography (v.): act of framing relations between bodies;
“a way of seeing the world”
Choreography (n.): result of any of these actions
Choreography (n.): a dynamic constellation of any kind,
consciously created or not, self-organising or super-imposed
Choreography (n.): order observed . . ., exchange of forces;
a process that has an observable or observed embodied order
Choreograph (v.): to recognize such an order
Choreography (v.): act of interfering with or negotiating
such an order
Let’s first ponder a bit of those concepts, social and choreography. Social is living together, and it contains questions of how we live together, what is we, who is included or excluded, how the social is structured, and how we negotiate on the sharing of the resources, the politics, and so on. In every society there is always various ways of how the social is structured, organized or, one could say pre-choreographed. If choreography concerns of movement and its organization in many levels (and here movement is thought of as inseparable of meaning and experience), then social choreography, as a field of art, focuses on those aspects of how the social is, or could be choreographed, by artistic means and motivations, diverging of for example purely economic, political or pedagogical means and motivations.
People are searching for ways to develop new sources of action that lie beyond preconceived plans or narrow self-interest, beyond past experiences. For this to be possible it is necessary to provide opportunities to experience acting in the world, not on the world, opportunities to explore places and possibilities, strategies and prototypes for shifting from the past, to opening up to what might be emerging from the future.
The Institute of Social Choreography specialises in deep dramaturgical research, the development of new cultural formats and collaborative networks, and the practice of social choreography as a set of methods for discovering and manifesting alternative patterns in the ecology of our collective experience. Project partners range from social service organisations of all kinds, religious institutions, schools, foundations, art, performance and design universities to creative agencies, the Occupy movement, local and international cultural initiatives, museums, dance departments and government agencies. Its primary aim is to expand, extend, and integrate experiential knowledge, attained in the visual and performing arts, into all aspects of civic and cultural life. Performative experimentation is its central methodological principle.