The SocioKinetic-bodymAPP: An Improvisation Tool for a Dance and Movement Practice.
The SocioKinetic-bodymAPP, an Improvisation Tool for a Dance and Movement Practice applies a practice-as-research fieldwork methodology, framed by a sociokinetic form of analysis, to an interrogation of the negative influence of familiarity and habit in the choreographic workplace and practices of contemporary dance. The bodymAPP is an innovative system that offers a uniquely embodied method for exploring and experiencing human movement that is targeted to students, professionals and educators in the dance and performing arts who wish to uniquely enhance and expand their creative skills, expertise and understanding of improvisational techniques and possibilities. The need for such a ‘tool’ arose from my awareness, as a contemporary dance choreographer and educator of over 30 years standing, of the difficulty to avoid ingrained work patterns and practices when attempting to innovate or produce radically different ideas and directions in one’s daily routines as an artist. This thesis demonstrates a structured method and system for re-routing habitual work tendencies towards enterprising new areas of insight and surprise.
Through applied concepts and holistic techniques, this research’s devised movement application tool and system, the bodymAPP (a ‘movement APP’ for the body), is formed and informed by a cross-disciplinary triangulation and integration of three key areas: sociology, everyday life and dance. From everyday life, an analytical deconstruction of walking and other pedestrian activities in public space supplies sociokinetic principles of movement that form the backbone of the bodymAPP system. Sociologists of the everyday provide a catalogue of techniques and ‘lenses’ for re-perceiving and re-engaging familiar territories of daily practice. Three in particular, accredited separately to 20th century Surrealism, Georges Perec’s notion of the ‘infraordinary’, and Husserl’s ‘phenomenological reduction’ – oblique, minutiae, epoché – were utilised in the bodymAPP’s development and are ingrained into its processes.
Influenced by the legacies and precedents of Rudolf Laban, William Forsythe and Judson Dance Theatre in the areas of improvisational dance and movement analysis, this thesis is predominantly a practical manual containing the many tasks and strategies devised and tested in the studio with the assistance of a team of semi-professional and professional contemporary dancers. These exercises are used to learn the bodymAPP and apply it as an embodied tool to the exploration and invention of new movement experiences and possibilities. Cross-pollinating Madeline Gins and Arakawa’s notion of ‘architectural body’ and Drew Leder’s ‘phenomenological anatomy’, the SocioKinetic-bodymAPP can be described as an ‘architected phenomenological anatomy’ whose purpose is to create, in the words of Michel Serres, ‘an exquisite proprioception’. This research centrally contributes to improvisational practices and creativity in the fields of dance and performance.