• The Materiality of Conflict in Contact: Improvisational Explorations in 'Pitch'

      Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; University of Chester (Dance Studies Association, 2018-12)
      This presentation investigates the 2017 site-based dance film project Pitch, featuring choreography by Charlie Morrissey, as an investigation into the materiality of conflict within contact improvisation practices. New materialist philosophies invite reconsideration of matter as animate in ways which dance improvisers might be said to already perceive the body. Deborah Hay’s knowledgeable cells, and Steve Paxton’s animal body can arguably be read in light of Karen Barad’s notion of posthumanist ‘iterative intra-activity’ in which the consideration of the differentiated mass of thebody as nonhuman becomes another kind of choreographic agent within the performance.Working processes within the project, which included focusing on the tactility of conflict as friction and the consideration of resistance itself as a material, placed emphasis on the dancers’ material experience of the body as a key performative strategy. In this sense, matter became figured, in the words of Barad, not ‘as a mere effect or product of discursive practices, but rather as an agentive factor in its iterative materialization’ (2012: 32) in which the identity of the dancers became ‘radically reworked’. From an analysis of the choreographic process and film product, this presentation will investigate how contact improvisation practices which focus on the tactile experience of matter can be said to be examples of iterative intra-activity on multiple perceptual levels. Tactile confrontation of ‘the other’ and his/her struggle toward aliveness in movement, and confrontation of the porous materiality of the human bodybecome hallmarks of the film.
    • Excitable tissues in motion capture practices: The improvising dancer as technogenetic imagist

      Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; Falmouth University (Intellect, 2013-10-01)
      This article outlines the potential of dance improvisation practice to function as a technological interface with one’s environment, drawing parallels between the performances of Twig Dances (Sarco-Thomas 2010) and technologies used in the life sciences to map living matter onto still frames. A postphenomenological approach is used to compare improvisation scores with image-making technologies. Scores that invite corporeal responses to the non-human, and kinaesthetic responses to organic matter, are highlighted as technologies which stand further exploration and examination as they mediate our experience of the world. A diversifying field of somatic practices is proposed as a means to investigate the potential knowledges generated by ‘excitable tissues’ enlivened through improvisational practices.
    • Diving Into the Wild: Ecologies of Performance in Devon and Cornwall

      Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; Falmouth University (Routledge, 2015-03-31)
      This chapter explores different examples of site-based dance performance in Devon and Cornwall, analysing them for the different ways they invite audiences and performers to engage with nature. The essay maps a continuum for engaging with the outdoors via a table that categorises different sited dance activities and performances from 2001-2014, drawing on findings of reports which identify the health benefits of engaging with green spaces. Works are analysed for their ways of encouraging viewing nature, incidental involvement, and purposeful, somatic involvement with the outdoors. The chapter argues that such performance initiatives offer conceptual and social frameworks for outdoor experiences that provide individuals with health-giving benefits whilst simultaneously proposing ways to think differently about our relationships to wild places.
    • Questioning through Doing: Shaping Praxis through the Individual Dance Project

      Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-04-27)
      How might flow theory explain dancers’ experience of technique class? Can auditory learning stimulate a deeper understanding of tap dance? How does “play” build group cohesion in improvisation? These and other questions can spark undergraduate dance research. Artistic research at the undergraduate level creates an opportunity for students to exercise a range of skills as scholars, facilitators and performers. This case study will look at the Individual Dance Project (IDP) as integral to the Bachelor (Honors) in Dance Studies course offered by the University of Malta’s School of Performing Arts as an example of high-impact teaching where students are guided and challenged to build unique projects which investigate a phenomenon in both theory and practice.
    • Introduction to the book: Interdisciplinarity in the Performing Arts: Contemporary Perspectives

      Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; Aquilina, Stefan (Malta University Press, 2018)
      The introduction to this book includes an overview of current discourses on interdisciplinary research and practice within the performing arts, and gives an overview of chapters contained in the book. Interdisciplinarity in the Performing Arts: Contemporary Perspectives contributes to current discussion about the intrinsic interdisciplinary nature of the performing arts, while also identifying the potential which theatre, dance, and music have in creating bridges with other disciplines like neuroscience, social sciences, philosophy, pedagogy, and therapy. Coordinated by the School of Performing Arts of the University of Malta and featuring contributions from KU Leuven, Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), Royal Holloway (London), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Brazil), and Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland), this publication explores questions brought forward by approaches to performance that interweave theory and practice, through examples of methodologies, philosophies, interpretations, and applications of interdisciplinarity today.
    • Interdisciplinarity in the Performing Arts: Contemporary Perspectives

      Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; Aquilina, Stefan; University of Malta (University of Malta Press, 2018)
      Interdisciplinarity in the Performing Arts: Contemporary Perspectives contributes to current discussion about the intrinsic interdisciplinary nature of the performing arts, while also identifying the potential which theatre, dance, and music have in creating bridges with other disciplines like neuroscience, social sciences, philosophy, pedagogy, and therapy. Coordinated by the School of Performing Arts of the University of Malta and featuring contributions from KU Leuven, Ghent University, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), Royal Holloway (London), Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Brazil), and Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland), this publication explores questions brought forward by approaches to performance that interweave theory and practice, through examples of methodologies, philosophies, interpretations, and applications of interdisciplinarity today.
    • Momentum, Gravity, and 'Sensational Facts': Attending to Interdisciplinary Materiality through Contact Improvisation

      Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; University of Chester (University of Malta Press, 2018)
      This chapter maps out some initial territory for examining how the movement practice of contact improvisation, a form born in the 1970s out of the explorations of Judson Dance Theatre artists, might be seen to offer a sensation and attention-based approach to matter. I suggest that such an attention-based practice can be understood as crucially interdisciplinary when viewed through the lens of new materialism. In doing so, I discuss the imaginative privileging of the sensate, characteristic of contact improvisation, as a frame through which to point to the significance of two further performance forms: the author’s solo performance Twig Dances and Min Tanaka’s Body Weather training. I conclude by identifying how these scores, which might be broadly identified as ‘contact [and] improvisation’ practices, open up questions of how performance philosophies that seek identification with, or question another, are significant to interdisciplinary investigations of materiality, including scientific processes. Such attention-based scores introduce new understandings of material entanglement, through embodied improvisation, which can be desirable to what this essay will call an experiential posthuman project. As such, ‘posthuman’ is understood in this essay as an approach whereby a collective set of forces, and attention-based processes, study material encounters through post-anthropocentric perspectives. I argue that such attention to materiality may be seen as interdisciplinary, when viewed as both a physical and imaginative performance practice.
    • ‘Mass May Be the Single Most Important Sensation’: Perceptual Philosophies in Dance Improvisation

      Sarco-Thomas, Malaika; University of Chester (Oxford University Press, 2019-04-02)
      This essay investigates how sensory perception can be cultivated as a key practice in dance improvisation performance. It looks at how artists such as Steve Paxton, Deborah Hay, and Simone Forti propose frameworks for exercising attention to perception when improvising, and how these scores can be routes towards experiencing different ways of relating to one’s environment. The essay draws on Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s contribution to theorizing sensory perception in bodily movement and in strands of ecological philosophy, developing the idea of ‘intelligent flesh’ as fundamental to both. It then uses the author’s experiences of working with these artists’ scores to investigate how perceptual attention can be creatively proposed, physicalized, performed, or, in Alva Noë’s term, ‘enacted’ in improvisation.
    • Performing PREVENT: Anti-extremist Theatre-in-Education in the Service of UK Counter-Terrorism, a Freirean Analysis

      Piasecka, Shelley; University of Chester (Taylor and Francis, 2019-05-24)
      This article reveals a new trend in UK counter-terrorism: the emergence of anti-extremist Theatre-in-Education (TIE) to deliver counter-terrorism projects in schools and colleges. Using Paulo Freire’s vision of critical and dialogic pedagogy, I offer an analysis of anti-extremist TIE against a backdrop of PREVENT, the UK counter-terrorism strategy. The September 11 attack, the London Transport bombings and the more recent attacks in Europe and the UK have contributed to a strengthening of counter-terrorism measures in all spheres of public life. In 2015, the UK government introduced a statutory duty for education providers to prevent young people from being drawn into terrorism. This is known as the PREVENT Duty. The implementation of the duty has not been without controversy, with commentators noting a disproportionate focus on Islamist forms of terrorism. My study has shown that the guiding principle of TIE to enact social change is threatened in this climate, whilst maintaining the possibility of engaging young people in meaningful dialogue about terrorism and violent extremism.
    • Co-creating, co-producing and connecting: Museum practice today.

      Barnes, Pamela; McPherson, Gayle; University of Chester; University of the West of Scotland (Wiley, 2019-04-25)
      We argue in this paper that museums have become hybrid spaces, where consumers look and challenge what they see; they form part of what they see; with some aspects of exhibitions now co‐created and co‐produced by the consumer (Kershaw et al. 2018; Solis 2012). This paper draws on an example from a group that we worked with using performance as a tool to engage a ‘hard to reach’ or ‘socially excluded’ groups. We conclude that by allowing audiences to co‐create and co‐produce exhibitions and performance; this can turn the museum rhetoric of community engagement into practice and create a space that is truly inclusive for the communities it serves. We demonstrate how the possibility of seeing museums as hybrid spaces, which can adapt, can be used for education and entertainment, and how that has in turn led to the transformation of people's lives in a previously socially excluded community.
    • Through the lens of Kaleidoscopic Pedagogy- collective imagining of democratic forms of being.

      Passila, A.; Owens, Allan; LUT University (Lahti- Lappeenranta) (Xamk, 2018-11-08)
      This chapter focuses on Kaleidoscopic Pedagogy as a conceptual frame of arts based method applied to a discussion and collective imagining of democratic forms of being with young people, artists, art pedagogues and researchers. The background of KP is a problem identified by one of the founding theorist of critical pedagogy Henry A. Giroux (2014a), which is that democracy has been sullied as a concept – as a ´service` - and no longer offers the promise of emancipation (Giroux, 2014b). The discussion, therefore, is about understandings of democracy: what it might look like and how it would feel to be in it according to young people themselves.
    • Miliwn o Ddawnswyr Cymraeg: A Million Welsh Dancers

      Harrop, Angharad; University of Chester (People Dancing, 2019-05)
      Using the work of BLAS, the community strand of Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre, Bangor, this article discusses how dance is able to help achieve the aims of the Welsh Government to have a million Welsh Speakers by 2050.
    • Emanuel Azenberg’s Life in Theatre: ‘Happiness Is Equilibrium. Shift Your Weight’

      Ellis, Sarah T.; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017-05-03)
      Working first for David Merrick and then Alexander Cohen, Emanuel Azenberg (b. 1934) has persevered into the twenty-first century as one of the last independent producers. He has also brought his practical experience into the classroom as a visiting professor at Duke University.
    • Change and the Meaning of Art

      Owens, Allan; Petäjäjärvi, Krista; University of Chester, UK; Centre for the Promotion of Artists /Taiteen edistämiskeskus, Finland (Taiteen edistämiskeskus (Centre for the Promotion of Artists), Helsinki, Finland, 2018-10-19)
      In Williams’ (1961) theory of the long revolutions – democratic, industrial and cultural – in which our societies have been embedded for generations, he argues that the very large scale of the changes and the many generations affected over time make it difficult to have any adequate perspective on the scale, depth and complexity of the changes that we nonetheless experience. (Adams and Owens, 2016). These long term social changes and conflicts are inevitably manifest in short term, contingent and local ways: ways of thinking and practising are continually changing and in so doing mirror or amplify the deeper currents of social change. Applied drama and theatre practice with all its specificities and cultural nuances, its implication of agency and collaboration, is a medium through which these deeper currents can be touched. The forms that such interactions and collaborations take can provide a lens on what change through art might mean.
    • Let’s Do the Time Warp Again: Performing Time, Genre, and Spectatorship

      Ellis, Sarah T.; University of Chester (Routledge, 2019-07-01)
      "Let's Do the Time Warp Again: Performing Time, Genre, and Spectatorship" identifies an affective link across nonrealist, time-warping genres of science fiction / fantasy and musical theater, as well as their dedicated and overlapping fan cultures; by considering reality to be historical and contingent, these anti-quotidian genres explore the limits of what is objectively present, and physicalize a temporally divergent world in the here and now.
    • Process drama as a tool for teaching modern languages: supporting the development of creativity and innovation in early professional practice

      Hulse, Bethan; Owens, Allan; University of Chester (Taylor & Francis, 2017-02-10)
      This paper reflects on issues arising from a research-informed learning and teaching project intended to enable student teachers of Modern Languages (MLs) to experiment with the use of unscripted ‘process drama’ in their classroom practice. The idea that process drama could become part of the language teacher’s repertoire has been in circulation for some time (Kao and O’Neill, 1998; Bräuer, 2002; Fleming, 2006; Stinson and Freebody, 2006; Giebert, 2014) yet there is little evidence to suggest that its use has become widespread in schools in England. The aim of the project was to enable student teachers to acquire drama teaching techniques which they could incorporate into their own practice in order to enrich the learning experiences their students through creative and imaginative use of the foreign language in the classroom. The research was undertaken over a period of three years by two teacher educators on a secondary initial teacher education programme in a university in England. The paper concludes that it is both possible and desirable for student teachers to encounter alternative approaches which challenge the norm and that with support they may develop innovative practices which can survive the ‘the ‘crucible of classroom experience’ (Stronach et al. 2002, p.124).
    • Tamaglitchi

      Collins, Karen; Dockwray, Ruth (ACM Press, 2018)
    • Exploring the material mediation of dialogic space—A qualitative analysis of professional learning in initial teacher education based on reflective sketchbooks

      Moate, Josephine; Hulse, Bethan; Hanke, Holger; Owens, Allan; University of Jyvaskyla; University of Chester; Europa-Universität Flensbur (Elsevier, 2018-12-05)
      This study addresses the crucial relationship between theory and practice as a key feature of professional learning in initial teacher education. The context for the study is an EU-funded intensive programme drawing on different dimensions of insideness and outsideness and arts-based pedagogies in response to the diversity of education today. The data for the study comes from self-selected pages from preservice teacher participants’ reflective sketchbooks. As a methodological approach that unifies the sensuous and cognitive this study suggests that reflective sketchbooks document the dialogic encounters of students whilst also providing a material space that can itself become a form of dialogic space for critical reflection. The main findings of the study outline critical ways in which preservice teachers transform theoretical inputs into individual expressions as well as conceptualise theory in relation to lived experience
    • Moby Dick Production Video Trailer

      Piasecka, Shelley; Piasecki, Simon; University of Chester; Liverpool Hope University (n/a, 2017-06)
      Moby Dick Stage Adaptation Written by Herman Melville Produced by Shelley Piasecka and Simon Piasecki At the end of the 19th century a New York customs inspector and writer died in relative obscurity. His name was Herman Melville and he would later come to be regarded as a literary giant, equal in stature to Mark Twain, John Steinbeck and Jack London. Melville published numerous books in his lifetime but is best known for Moby Dick, a story of a young schoolmaster aboard the ill-fated voyage of the Pequod, a Nantucket whaling ship. Melville had experienced whaling himself and also spent some time in Liverpool, whilst travelling the oceans. Here, Melville’s classic is brought to life in a fast moving and thrilling stage adaptation. It is a timeless story that pits man against the forces of nature itself. How far will a man go to satisfy a vengeful obsession?
    • Returning Pretext

      Owens, Allan; Yamani, H.; University of Bethlehem (2017-01-26)
      In the ‘Right to Return Pre-text’ we travel back in time to the year 1967 when Israel opened the border for the first time in 20 years to Palestinians who fled in 1948. Husband and wife Said and Sofia are arguing in their living room in Ramallah, Palestine about whether or not they should take this chance to visit the house for which they still have the key, but which Israelis would now surely be living in. Finally on a sweltering hot June day they set out in their old grey Fiat to make the journey to Haifa to face the un-faceable. Based on Ghassan Kanafani’s (1936-1972) novella ‘Returning to Haifa’ this pre-text explores the consequences of political and military occupation from a deeply human perspective. A series of questions are posed through three scenes that take participants from the known in to profoundly de-stabilising unknown territories.