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Walking in circles: Dancing with shadows – Choreo-cartography as a strategy to explore and embody ephemeral mnemonic geographies

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How might strategies of choreographic embodiment generate cartographies of a ‘shadow city’? How might the deconstruction and exploration of memory reveal that which can no longer be seen?

This article explores specific elements of a site-responsive PaR process based in Berlin from 2012 to 2015 that explored ‘reading’ and writing the experience of the city as a corporeal spatial practice. This research created a platform in which participants deconstructed the environment in which they lived in order to (re) construct a heightened sense of sensitivity to the embodied experience of being in time and space. The article articulates how this was achieved through the creation, implementation and evaluation of a dynamic series of choreographic, cartographic and visual practice workshops in which I collaborated with elderly members of the city and young dancers in professional training. Through a combination of reflexive writing and the presentation of project materials (including reflection upon the materials which this study generated in the form of poetic reflection, choreographic scores, interview footage hand drawn maps and images) the article reflects upon the landscape of the city as an active archive for memory of unmarked and marked ground. It scrutinizes samples and performance traces of my socio-ethno choreographic field research. It frames the narratives, memories and improvisations gathered through this research, and explores how a sustained artistic process of dialogue and interpretation augments a specific form of cultural knowledge by generating a systematic vision and perspective of the city as a form of embodied memory and knowledge.

The body in the city acts a vessel to carry, contain and interact, forming routes and navigations through the immediacies of its encounter ...
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Keywords: choreographic; city; dwelling; embodiment; ephemeral; intergenerational; somatic

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Kingston

Publication date: May 1, 2019

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  • Choreographic Practices operates from the principle that dance embodies ideas and can be productively enlivened when considered as a mode of critical and creative discourse. The journal provides a platform for sharing choreographic practices, critical inquiry and debate.
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