[dance-tech] Re: Fwd: Post symposium anyone?

  • From: "Maria Chatzichristodoulou [aka maria x]" <drp01mc@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 11:28:12 +0000

Dear All,

I find your discussion very interesting and pertinent, and many thanks for all the useful examples of various models for curating events.

I just wanted to chip in with some recent experience: last year I co-directed, with Rachel Zerihan, an event called 'Intimacy: Across Digital and Visceral Performance', which took place at Goldsmiths, Uni. of London and The Albany, with some performances at Laban, Home London and online (Second Life, UpStage etc.).

We had the same concerns that have been expressed in this thread. What we did in the end was, rather than organise a 3-day conference (which is what we had funding for, really), we programmed 2 days of performances, workshops and seminars. In this way we aimed to foreground practice as the very core of the event. The workshops and seminars were long (lasting from 4 hours to 3 days) and allowed space and time for hands-on experimentation and in-depth discussion and debate. Having workshops and seminars rather than papers also meant that we had participants rather than audiences.

The artists, workshop/seminar leaders, participants and (performance) audiences could then convene on the last day for a conference, which was pretty traditional in its structure, i.e. people were giving papers. Nonetheless, we invited workshop and seminar leaders to report on the outcomes of their explorations if they wanted to, and asked them to format this response any way they wanted to. Although nobody invited participants to speak for themselves (which would had been interesting but also, potentially, very chaotic) the responses were varied in that some were shaped more like academic papers, whereas others more like different types of reports or responses. We also programmed some small performances (one on one, happenings) that were taking place in parallel with the conference, in the same building. We thought that it would be useful to offer people the option to take a break from papers in order to experience silence (the subject of one performance), play a game (another performance) or eat (one of the events involved cooking).

Our event had some shortcomings (e.g. you can only have limited numbers of participants in workshops and seminars, some people found it difficult to choose between conference and performances) but the response we received was, in general, overwhelmingly positive. Many participants /audiences told us that they really enjoyed the long workshops /seminars and the possibility for 'real' debate and experimentation that these offered.

There is a (very basic) website of the event at http://www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/intimacy

With best wishes,
Maria X

Katherine Mancuso wrote:
I think that if I were doing an openspace model dance tech symposium I
would want to include openspace dancing.  I know this seems obvious
but one of the most tiring things about traditional conferences for me
is that we spend a lot of time talking about the body without actually
doing.  It would be entirely plausible to shoot and put together a
video dance or some other neat networked performance piece and use
that as a basis for our discussions, and use discussions to drive
dance.  One of the openspace conferences I enjoy the most is the
Alternate Roots Annual Meeting (www.alternateroots.org) and it's fun
precisely because we both get business done and have professional
development workshops AND have frequent art breaks.

One of the more interesting conferences I've been to under this model
of performance informing theory is the Anarcha Project conference:


On Sat, Feb 7, 2009 at 1:59 PM, Sarah Rubidge <s.rubidge@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
This was sent to Armando  .... but then I saw your emails. There seem to be
a lot of alternative models out there ..... It would be great to collaborate
on something like this.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Sarah Rubidge <s.rubidge@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, Feb 7, 2009 at 6:56 PM
Subject: Re: [dance-tech] Post symposium anyone?
To: armando@xxxxxxx

Absolutely agree.  They seem to waste, rather than enhance, the opportunity
for dialogue.   I rather like the idea that a symposium  originally referred
to a  party!
a) a convivial party (as after a banquet in ancient Greece) with music and
b) a social gathering at which there is free interchange of ideas

The meaning it has taken on in academia seems to be more akin to a
colloqium.    I think we are seeking a discursive rather than lecture and
question–answer format

SO - yes - alternatives.  I guess it depends on what one wants to gain from
it.  Joahnnes did a Brainstorming weekend in Ohio many years ago.  That
seemed to work very well.

Taking on board the listening to local realities as a given, Other
possibilities would be setting up sessions with small groups of people for
the sole purpose of  discussion on different topics. Some groups might be
primarily technical, others compositional, others
philsophical/sociological/generally theoretical, others artistic - focusing
on specific modes of artistic practice, some could be practical explorations
of a topic.  I would suggest that the this is set up such that there is an
opportunity for specialists to get together  to share ideas/developements in
thinking and doing, and/or problems that they are encoutnering, AND the
opportunity for people with different approaches to mix and talk, so that
all participants go way with new  ideas to ponder upon.
 Maybe have the same/a similar topic/question for each group for one
substantial session;  then mix the membership of the groups up on another
session/day to discuss the similarities and differences in the different
approaches to a question/concept, whatever.   This would give specialists a
chance to get into an in-depth discussion of an idea in their own terms, yet
still allow the  opportunity for everyone to hear how others less au fait
with their approach/discipline understand it.   Coffee could be always
available, lunches could become more distributed, informal continuations of
the discussion  ......  and preferably take place outside the venue - and be
for two hours or so. (This worked very well in the Mutamorphosis conference
in Prague last year.  It gave an unparalleled opportunity to join with a
small group for lunch and spend time talking at length in a genuinely social

Also allow time for participants to breathe - take stock ..... and to wander
as well - starting late - or finishing early. One of the things I find with
symposia is that, apart from being bombarded with words and ideas and not
having time to reflect,  I never manage to get out into the area in which
the sympoium is taking place.  Hotel to  symposium venue to hotel  tends to
be the pattern.  It is ironic that there are so many cities I have been to
but never visited.

Maybe also mount  an installation 'in process' ... using this as an
opprtunity for the artists to put the system/iinstallation up to test it
with participants/users.  This is an invaluable way to  see how a system
might be used.  A mix of people (even if most are au fait with certain areas
of dance-techology practice) could offer invaluable insights that could be
incorporated into the system subsequenttly.  And of course,
exhibitions/small performances/

I would be very happy to  become involved/collaborate on setting up
something  of this kind ... I hope to get to Tunisia but am not certain
whether this will happen yet.


On Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 2:13 AM, Armando Menicacci <armando@xxxxxxx> wrote:
Hello all,

I've been tired of symposia for quite a long time. Of course as a
researcher I go to listen, I go to speak and I organize them all the time
(the next 3 I'll organiza will be in Tunisia in may, in Paris in May and in
Rio de Janeiro in July. But nevertheless I'm tired of the form they seem to
be crystalized in. Don't you?

Missed encounters, just short glimpses, tight and tiring schedule, fake
(if existing) question and answer session after the presentation...... the
list of the things lots of people don't like (but rarely dare to say) is
great. The best moments in the symposiums? Almmost everybody agrees: the
coffe brakes! Where you can really, even for ten minutes smoking one
cigarette after the other you drink the tenth coffe of the day but have some
quality time with your favourite speaker.

To make a long story short I think that the ideal symposium is JUST a long
coffe break.

But I'd like to ask something: in our field, digital
performance/installation etc. etc. what woud you think an appropriate,
pertinent contemporary form of a dance-tech knowledge sharing gathering
would be? Just to kick start (hoping that a discussion will follow) I'd like
to propose that a postcolonial approach to a symposium would be a form of
dialogue with the place in which the event (should we still call it
symposium?) would be.

Suggestion 1) Listening (good exercise for a speaker) to local realities
and do a work of calibrating level and topics of the speech in order to
create a dialogue.

Another thing that always strikes me is, generally, the little space
dedicated to questions. For me it is as important as the paper.

Suggestion 2) "Real" question-dialogue-exchange section

Who would like to go on?

If we come up with something we could implement this in the dance tech
symposium we are organizing in may in tunisia and you'll all be credited for
the suggestions that become real. (By the way, maybe this is already the
beginning of a different way of organizing symposium: asking what form this
could have from scratch and thinking it in a wide dialogue....)

All the besto to all of you

Armando Menicacci
Dierector of the Mediadanse Laboratory
Dance Department, Paris 8 University

Sarah Rubidge
Professor of Choreography and New Media
University of Chichester, UK

Sarah Rubidge
Professor of Choreography and New Media
University of Chichester, UK

Maria Chatzichristodoulou [aka maria x] PhD Art and Computational Technologies Goldsmiths Digital Studios skype: mariax_gr www.cybertheater.org

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