Archives par mot-clé : Ballets russes

Music-Dance: Sound and Motion in Contemporary Discourse and Practice

Conference organized by Gianmario Borio, Patrizia Veroli and Gianfranco Vinay

Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venezia, Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore

Oskar Schlemmer, Tänzerin (Die Geste), 1922-23. Pinakothek der Moderne, München © 2015. Foto Scala, Firenze/bpk, Bildagentur füer Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin (detail)

The conference aims to investigate principles, methodologies and performance practices that have recently involved music and dance, opening new areas of research for choreologists and musicologists. At the center of our exploration lie the identity of the choreomusical work, the complexities of its authorship and the concept of incorporation.

Dance performance has been the object of new considerations aimed at analyzing its organic plurality, with the musical aspect becoming a main priority. Following pioneering research by musicologists interested in ballet (Wiley 1985, Smith 2000), some scholars have brought to the field both musical and choreographic expertise, theorizing and pursuing the permeability between the two disciplines. They tend to analyze not so much the intertwining of sound and motion but rather the ways in which the co-presence of these two expressive forms creates a new dimension. A renewed attention in the dynamics of listening and vision as well as a full recognition of kinesthetic empathy have been able to make use of the advances in cognitivism and neuroscience to invest the choreomusical phenomenon in its integrity and coherence. In the last decade, a series of conferences have played their part in creating a theoretical base for ‘choreomusicology’, also extending its range of influence with many new case studies.

These new issues will be considerate in our conference from an interdisciplinary perspective, with the objective of reaching a high level of integrated reflection. The repertoire which can be taken into consideration ranges widely from the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev to the present day.

Session 1: Musical Notation and Choreo-graphy

Nicolas Donin, Claudia Jeschke, Marina Nordera

The musical score can be seen as a graphic image of the sound. Its historical evolution is linked not only to the transformation of the constituents of musical language and their fixation with graphical signs, but also to the changing conventions in performance traditions, music theory and aesthetics that have privileged some musical parameters rather than others. If we are to consider that two of the fundamental elements of music, i.e. time and sound, are not reproducible in signs, it is possible to understand how little a score can contain of a musical work. Despite the existence of a margin of freedom between the graphical image and the realization of sound, the musical score remains prescriptive. However, when it becomes part of a choreomusical project, it changes its status, becoming a flexible structure that can give origin to a number of symbolic weavings and associations.

Despite the terminology identifying its creative practice (choreography) and the invention of various ways of noting it down (choreo-graphies), Western dance performance is linked to an oral dimension and follows a different course to the one pertaining to music. The composition and execution of dance are inseparable from corporeal presence, but not from that of a text. The systems of notation, devised since the end of the fifteenth century, display a complex relationship between dance, language and writing. They are ‘texts’ of a kind of non-written ‘performing knowledge’, that allows more or less partial access to the relationship between culture, writing and movement creation, and to the theories related to the body and movement which have led to its formulation.

Goals such as aide-mémoire, recording, transmission, a public and neutral identification of movement have guided the conception of codes that use abstract signs and figurines, sometimes adopting musical notation and sometimes producing thoroughly new graphical systems.

Session 2: Choreomusical Poetics: Strategies and Processes

Stephanie Jordan, Susanne Franco, Ulrich Mosch

A choreographer can commission a score, use one or more existing pieces of music, draw from oral tradition, recordings or live improvisation. In the first decades of the twentieth century, the repertoire of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes show several examples of direct collaboration between composer and choreographer; also today in the wake of this legendary company, many choreographers and performance artists try to establish a creative understanding with composers. In the 1950s John Cage and Merce Cunningham have theorized and practiced a cooperation based on the reciprocal autonomy of the visual and sound components, whose meeting should be exclusively dictated by chance. This kind of collaboration has opened the way to an awareness of ontological independence between sound and movement.

On the basis of what aesthetic and/or productive principles does the collaboration between choreographer and composer occur and develop? When music and dance are theorized as independent, are they reciprocally indifferent? What poetic modalities and poietic demands push a choreographer to make use of a pre-existing music score? What new meanings does music gain when inserted in a collage including music from other historical-cultural contexts? When that happens, what is the impact on the choreomusical work?

Session 3: Sentient Bodies

Dee Reynolds, Lawrence Zbikowski, Eric Clarke

An interdisciplinary perspective on the embodied quality of the cognitive processes has brought to a new interaction between dance and music, and science. In recent decades, cognitive science has recognized that the mind of each individual is tightly linked to social context, that cognitive processes are dependent on experience, and that thought is only partially expressed through language. The so-called ‘grounded cognition’ (Barsalou 2008) considers, among other things, the role of the imagination as a mediator in the relationship between body and mind, whereas neuroscientists have demonstrated how corporeal experience can influence knowledge. The discovery of mirror neurons (Gallese et al. 1996), activating imitative identification on the basis of phenomena of motor resonance, has brought to the fore the old concepts of Einfühlung (Lipps, 1913) and of “metakinesis” (Martin, 1939) that postulated an interaction between who moves and who watches that movement. Kinesthetic empathy determines a sharing of an emotional state shaped by personal history as well as by the sociocultural context to which the audience belongs. Further research has shown that mirror neurons are activated even by sound stimuli. FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) techniques and sophisticated recording technologies allow human motion in space to be analyzed, correlating neural activity both to the person who moves and the one who watches the motion. They also permit the realization of functional mappings of the structures involved in the perception of sound (Gazzola et al. 2006). It has also been proved that in the absence of real perceptions, an individual has the capacity to simulate perceived information, including that associated with motor actions (Barsalou, 1999), that can propagate themselves through an analogical route, passing for example from music to movement and vice versa. The experience can act on cognitive structures also via ‘image schemata’ (Johnson 1987), that is models of thought, or rather conceptual metaphors (Lakoff-Johnson 2008) based on repeated models of corporeal experience.

Scientific contributions of this type offer opportunities to reflect on constructive processes of the meaning of a choreomusical work, from the perspective of both the watcher and listener, and from the perspective of creator and interpreter, as well as on the modalities through which movement and sound act on the perceptive process. The emergence of parameters inspired by gesture and corporeal acts, such as ‘the musical gesture’, demonstrates the extent to which somatocentric orientation has acquired an important role in recent musicological research.

Session 4: Dynamic Interactions of Motion and Sound

Inger Damsholt, Massimiliano Locanto, Julia H. Schroeder

The plurality of contexts that today present a simultaneous happening of sound and motion offers important elements for analyzing the ways in which the various elements of a choreomusical work intertwine. The audiovisual synthesis has been considered in a multi-media, above all filmic, environment, using various premises and reaching partially divergent conclusions. Nicholas Cook (1998) has indentified three possible modalities of media interaction: ‘comformance’, ‘contest’ and ‘complementation’. ‘Comformance’ refers to a kind of synaesthesia, in which sound and image respond closely to each other; ‘contest’ consists of forms of competition or rather of opposition that can act on the work’s poetic intention in a significant way; finally, ‘complementation’ identifies possible integrations between the first two modalities. Cook, Gorbman (1987) and Chion’s (1990) studies of film music have explained the relationship between the arts implicated as characterized by negotiation. In the wake of Miriam Bratu Hansen’s essays (2012), could the structure of the audiovisual text be brought into focus starting with the principles of synchronization and editing? How do such principles respond to the challenges of A digital reality characterized by an incessant proliferation of new media where music and performance interact? How can theories elaborated until now, be applied to the world of dance performance? Which tools does an analysis of the choreomusical work need in order to embrace the multifarious dynamics of motion and sound? How useful or limited can be the investigation of audiovisual recordings?

Session 5: Live bodies, mediatized bodies, ‘metabodies’

Antonio Camurri, Susan Broadhurst, Rolf Inge Godøy

In recent times technological resources have allowed a detailed analysis of musical aspects and parameters as well as of gestural constituents of musical execution and interpretation. Research shows that the performer’s body is not only a medium, a mechanism needed to translate a virtual musical image (mental and/or graphic) into a real acoustic image, but it also assumes an important role in the definition of that image and the attribution of the so called expressive characters. When the interpreter’s gestures, actions and mimics are analyzed not only for their acoustic and sound outcomes, but also for their visual impact on the audience (Davidson 1995), a space for common musicological and choreological research is open.

Practices such as motion tracking, which implies the application of sensors or markers to the interpreter’s body, and Artificial Intelligence (an agent capable of perceiving and interacting in the area in which it is situated) offer artistic and didactic opportunities. Digital technologies are nowadays fully integrated in mental, creative and performing processes. They modulate notions of interactivity and ‘liveness’, and open new possibilities to the relationship between body and sound in space and time. Wireless sensors applied to the performer’s body allow the manipulation of digital sound in real time, translating gesture into another medium. These new perspectives may also be read in terms of a ‘metabody’, which is conceptualized as a ‘body of relations in movement’ and of unstable identity, exceeding the Cartesian division between body and mind. Technology plays a fundamental role in it (del Val, Sorgner, 2011). The ‘metabody’ is currently the focus of a European project (, 2013-2018).

Selected Bibliography

  • Barsalou, Lawrence W., “Perceptual Symbol System”, in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 22, 1999.
  • Barsalou, Lawrence W., “Grounded Cognition”, in Annual Review of Psychology, 59, 2008.
  • Bratu Hansen, Miriam, Cinema and Experience: Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012.
  • Chion, Michel, L’audio-vision, Nathan, Paris, 1990.
  • Cook, Nicholas, Analysing Musical Multimedia, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1998.
  • Davidson, Jane W., « What Does the Visual Information Contained in Music Performances Offer the Observer? Some Preliminary Thoughts », in Reinhard Steinberg (a c. di), The Music Machine Psycho-physiology and Psychopatology of the Sense of Music, Springer, Berlin-Heidelberg, 1995.
  • Del Val, Jaime, Stefan Sorgner, “Metahumanist Manifesto, Interview and Review”, in The Agonist. Nietzsche Circle, IV, 2, 2011. [Link].
  • Gallese, Vittorio et al., “Action Recognition in the Premotor Cortex”, in Brain, v. 119, 2, 1996.
  • Gazzola, Valeria et al., “Empathy and the Somatotopic Auditory Mirror System in Human”, in Current Biology, 16, 2006.
  • Gorbman, Claudia, Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1987.
  • Johnson, Mark L., The Body in the Mind: the Bodily Basis of Meaning, Imagination and Reason, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1987.
  • Lakoff, George, Mark L. Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2008.
  • Lipps, Theodor, Zur Einfühlung, W. Engelmann, Leipzig, 1913.
  • Martin, John, Introduction to the Dance, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1939.
  • Smith, Marian E., Ballet and Opera in the Age of Giselle, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2000.
  • Wiley, Roland John, Tchaikovsky’s Ballets: Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York, 1985.

Source : Fondazione Giorgio Cini

Lien vers le programme (pdf – italien/anglais) et les informations pratiques : Fondazione Giorgio Cini

Le programme du séminaire 2013-2014. Second semestre

Voici la suite du programme du séminaire Histoire culturelle de la danse 2013-2014

Le séminaire se déroule à l’EHESS (105, bd Raspail, 75006 Paris, salle 7, 19h-21h).


Teatro eretto alla Carlina, villa del signor Bovio, l’anno 1725 per rappresentarvi la Rodoguna di Pierre Corneille Incisione all’acquaforte BCABo, GDS Cart. H, Feste e scene teatrali, n. 46 Bologna (Italy), Biblioteca dell’archiginnasio.
Teatro eretto alla Carlina, villa del signor Bovio, l’anno 1725 per rappresentarvi la Rodoguna di Pierre Corneille.
Incisione all’acquaforte. BCABo, GDS Cart. H, Feste e scene teatrali, n. 46. Bologna (Italia),
Biblioteca dell’Archiginnasio
10 février 2014 : Roland Huesca (Professeur, Université de Lorraine),  A chaque lieu, ses attentes. Théâtre des Champs-Elysées et théâtre du Châtelet à l’époque des Ballets russes.
24 février 2014 : Isabelle Conte (doctorante à l’EPHE), Les différents lieux des bals d’artistes à Paris: l’exemple du Bal des Quat’Z’Arts (1892-1966).
10 mars 2014 : Pauline Lemaigre-Gaffier (maître de conférence, Université Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines), Danser à la cour, danser pour la cour : les Menus Plaisirs et la danse dans la France des Lumières.

24 mars 2014 : Katharina Van Dyk (doctorante, Paris 8), Sur quelques archives filmiques de la modern dance : enjeux méthodologiques et esthétiques ; discutante : Laetitia Doat.

7 avril 2014 : François Gasnault (Conservateur général du patrimoine, chercheur à l’IIAC-Lahic), Fest-noz et bal folk : parcours, usages et fonctions de la danse en milieu « trad » (années 1950-années 2000).

28 avril 2014 : Sarah di Bella (Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre), La danse circulaire : paradigme chorégraphique de la pensée disciplinaire,16e-17e siècles ; discutant : à confirmer.

12 mai 2014 : Table-ronde autour de la question des lieux dans le livre de Sophie Jacotot, Danser à Paris dans l’entre-deux-guerres. Lieux, pratiques et imaginaires des danses de société des Amériques (1919-1939).

26 mai 2014 : Séance de conclusion.

Petit rappel : le séminaire est en entrée libre et ouvert à tous dans la limite des places disponibles.

Le programme du séminaire Histoire culturelle de la danse. Premier semestre 2013-2014

Organisé par Elizabeth Claire, Emmanuelle Delattre, Marie Glon, Sophie Jacotot, Vannina Olivesi.

2e et 4e lundis du mois de 19 h à 21 h (salle 7, 105 bd Raspail 75006 Paris), du 25 novembre 2013 au 26 mai 2014. Séance supplémentaire le 7 avril 2014 (même heure, même salle)

Ce séminaire propose d’explorer l’histoire des danses sociales et spectaculaires en Europe dans une perspective culturaliste, pour la période comprise entre les XVIe et XXIe siècles. Nous poursuivrons cette année notre investigation sur les usages de l’iconographie dans la recherche en danse. Ce champ de recherche sera couplé à une deuxième thématique consacrée aux lieux de la danse (lieux d’apprentissage, de recherche, de création, de répétition, de représentation, de bal…).

Invitation pour le Bal des Quat'Z'Arts. Oeuvre d'Henri Jules Ferdinand Bellery-Desfontaines
Invitation pour le Bal des Quat’Z’Arts. Oeuvre d’Henri Bellery-Desfontaines. Source : Bellery-Desfontaines

Quatre axes seront privilégiés :

  • Lieux et espaces : quels projets esthétiques pour quels lieux ?
  • Lieux et identités professionnelles : comment l’étude des lieux de pratique nous renseigne-t-elle sur le statut et les conditions de travail des danseurs ?
  • Lieux et circulations : comment des danses circulent-elles du studio à la scène, de la scène au bal ou l’inverse…?
  • Publics, sociabilités, imaginaires : comment les lieux de danse construisent-ils les conditions d’un regard sur le corps dansant ?

Programme du premier semestre :

25 novembre 2013 : Séance d’introduction, avec Mark Franko (Temple University)

9 décembre 2013 : Sophie Jacotot (post-doctorante, CRAL) et Axelle Locatelli (doctorante, Paris 8), « La transmission par l’écrit dans les processus de création en danse, à travers les exemples du développement de la cinétographie Laban au début des années 1930 et de l’usage de l’écriture Conté à la fin des années 1940 ».

13 janvier 2014 : Julie Perrin (enseignante-chercheuse au département danse de l’université Paris 8), « Une danse en situation ».

27 janvier 2014 : Juan Ignacio Vallejos (chercheur au CONICET, Conseil national de recherche scientifique et technique, Argentine), Les philosophes de la danse : le projet du ballet pantomime dans l’Europe des Lumières (1760-1776).

10 février 2014 : Roland Huesca (professeur, Université de Lorraine), « A chaque lieu, ses attentes. Théâtre des Champs-Elysées et théâtre du Châtelet à l’époque des Ballets russes ».

24 février 2014 : Isabelle Conte (doctorante à l’EPHE), « Les différents lieux des bals d’artistes à Paris: l’exemple du Bal des Quat’Z’Arts (1892-1966) ».