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A conversation about choreographic thinking tools

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This article aims to draw the reader into an interdisciplinary conversation between the co-authors about the use of imagery in dance creation placed under very different disciplinary lenses. The conversation has two points of departure. First, for nearly a decade the choreographer Wayne McGregor has engaged in an interdisciplinary collaborative research with cognitive scientists with the aim to develop new understandings of the choreographic process. A large percentage of this research has focused on imagery in creativity and has resulted in the development of the Choreographic Thinking Tools, currently in use by McGregor and his dance company. One third of this article is dedicated to a description of these developments combined with figures that illustrate the scientific theory lying behind them. The second point of departure and second third of this article brings these ideas into conjunction with somatic practices, as reflected in the writing of an expert practitioner invited to introduce somatics to McGregor’s dance company in the framework of the Choreographic Thinking Tools. The final section that concludes the article reintroduces scientific theory with the goal to articulate some of the contrasts and overlaps between the different approaches represented in this conversation.

Keywords: choreography; cognitive science; creativity; dance; imagery; somatics

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Coventry University and Wayne McGregor | Random Dance 2: Independent Dance 3: Wayne McGregor | Random Dance and formerly Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit

Publication date: April 27, 2012

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  • This journal focuses on the relationship between dance and somatic practices, and the influence of this body of practice on the wider performing arts. The journal will be aimed at scholars and artists, providing a space for practitioners and theorists to debate the work, to consider the impact and influence of the work on performance, the interventions that somatic practices can have on other disciplines and the implications for research and teaching.
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