Academic Research

THESE DAYS I AM WRITING a PhD titled: Relational Autobiographical Choreography – on new choreographic practice.

My research is a practice based, and besides analyzing my own choreographic work, I am looking at other choreographers who are dealing with similar concepts and concerns; choreographers who relook the notion of autobiography.  

The new millennium witnessed the appearance of a novel choreographic practice in the West which challenged old concepts of autobiography. Until then autobiography had been based predominantly on a coherent self who speaks itself, by itself, but now became a practice in which a self, while dependent upon the other(s), could create her autobiography only through her relationship to others. The new choreographic practice presented autobiography as a relational act. Based on feminist ideas of subjectivity, this new form of autobiographical choreography has three distinguishing features: first, it posits identity partly as a narrative; second, it views the other as the autobiographer (instead of the self); and third, it regards relationships (with various others) as the essence of one’s self. In other words, without the other, the self cannot know who she is. It is the other who tells a self her life-story and through it reveals her uniqueness to her. This is the choreographic practice that I have created and analyzed in my thesis. I have named this practice: relational autobiographical choreography.

The reason for pursuing this academic and practical research was in order to locate my work in the current dance landscape. I wanted to understand and articulate what it is that I do, what it says about the notion of identity, of autobiography and of self-other relationships. In addition I wanted to explore choreographers who are creating similar work. Once I realized that my work aligned mostly with other female choreographers I felt that the thesis could contribute to female choreographers’ approach to dance, choreography, and autobiography, as well as to a positive idea of the self – other relationships. By interlacing (my) life-storytelling, theory and the art of choreography (looking at the work of the Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and the Hungarian choreographer Eszter Salamon), the thesis presents my analysis of this new form of choreography. It introduces a ‘feminine’, political practice which elaborates an identity as being understood through relationships; a vibrant and insightful choreographic practice that stretches the self into a communal act.