What’s up, practice?

Practice was a strategy for setting up protocols outside of creativity, outside of big art originating from the inventive artist. Does it still hold this promise when we have an expression like “practice based choreography”? Has practice become a technique, a style?

Practice was a strategy for questioning improvisation, ridding ourselves of improvisation that is based on an idea of individual creative expression which did not provide any actual freedom of movement but rather the “look of freedom” whilst dancing (the eyes looking around, the seemingly surprising yourself startling, the decently clumsy movements, the irregularities, in-symmetries, intermittent twitches). Can practice still do that? Is there still a need of doing that? Or has practice just become the new look of freedom?

Practice was a strategy for intertwining theory and practice, mind and body, the thinking process and the acting process into one inseparable activity. Practice described as a knowledge produced through repetition, a know-how intrinsic to its doing. Now, with practice being a well-known method for producing choreography (of making dances), and with texts, seminars and symposiums on practices taking place, does it still produce that inseparable knowledge? How can practices provide space for criticism and analysis within their practice without regressing to a knowledge regime which requires us to step out, to analyze from a distance? How can we insist on staying within what we do and still provides space for criticality?

Based on three practical examples of choreographic practices from my work and the theories feeding into them, we will try to figure out what use practice can be for contemporary choreography. What is the problem with practice today? Why did we get interested in practice and does it still serve a purpose? What is the practice we need, or, what do we need to practice?

This practice workshop was developed for the MA students in choreography at KHiO in Oslo, January 2015.