translation and mapping: notes from Alys’ class

These are Alys’s notes from Monday.

Choreographic Research Class Roehampton, 5 October 2015

  1. Introduction

Think of a question related to your research that is currently interesting you. So introduce with your name and your question.

  1. Context
  1. What is research? (group 1 minute brainstorm) Freewriting mind map on a piece of paper of anything that comes into your head.
  2. Is there difference between a research practice and a choreographic practice? (group 1 minute brainstorm)
  3. What are your most important tools in developing a dance making/research practice? – List these on your paper: your list can be as whimsical/serious/ diffuse as you like, try to include obvious and less obvious things – Rate your list with 1 being most essential
  1. Methods: Translation and Mapping

For me, after 10 years of artistic research in universities, the fold between different modes of practice takes on a heightened importance in an academic research setting.

What might you consider the fold between different kinds of practice, or different vocabularies, or different ways of thinking in your own work?

  • Forms of notating what I’m doing
  • Attending to questions that drive my work, but also clarify relationships between this specific inquiry and others in my field and related fields (setting limits, narrowing possibilities)
  • Understanding process and communicating the conceptual development of work in multiple vocabularies– the vocabulary of my studio practice, the vocabulary of a journal, academic language, the vocabulary of funding applications, the vocabulary of publicity statements, poetic writing, narrative writing – all of these are necessary for me in different ways in generating work that moves between different contexts.

So today I’d like to work with two different methods or fields of practice that I am currently finding very useful in my research- translation and mapping.


What ideas/processes/ concepts does the term translation evoke?

What ideas/processes/ concepts does the term mapping evoke?

Moving Task

  • Provide a range of different drawing implements – watercolour brushes, pencils, crayons, ink and fountain pen
  • Everyone choose a implement for drawing/ writing

Steve Paxton’s small dance

  • Translate the sensorium of this movement to the page – allowing the drawing medium you’ve chosen to be active in this embodied investigation at the site of the page
  • Consider this a kind of duet with the media – think of degrees of weight, texture, fluidity, grittiness or softness, density of line. Listen carefully to the possibilities of the media. Feel the movement in your body and translate it through this medium, to the page.

return to small dance

  • Map the sensorium of this movement to the page – again allowing the drawing medium you’ve chosen to be active in this embodied investigation at the site of the page
  • Place your map and translation on the ground – everyone pick up one page produced by someone else.
  • Make a little cell of movement from your page

2 minute tasks

  • Now write a list of the first things that come to your mind after moving through your phrase
  • Change writing implement
  • Now describe specific pathways or actions with as much detail as possible – you can return to the movement whenever you like
  • Change writing implement
  • Write or draw tangentially – keep the experience, the sensorium of the movement in your body, and write anything that comes into your head no matter how unrelated it may seem, the point is to be indirect and bring in the unexpected.
  • Change writing implement
  • Write a poem out of the sensorium of movement – that is allow the cadence, sound, melody of words and their space on the page to articulate the movement.

Collective composition task

So one person will place one of their drawings down on the floor and then another person will choose one of their drawings to place down in relationship to it, and we keep composing our papers on the floor until all our papers are added. The form that emerges is created through the task.

Time to look through the collective assemblage of writing/drawing

To imagine that a meaning might be the same despite a change of words is something like imagining that I’d still be me in a new body.

Charles Bernstein ”Close Listening: Poetry and Performed Word” Oxford University Press, 1998, p.17


  • Might the instruments through which we document or reflect on or map or translate our practices effect the way that we understand what we do?
  • Conversely, are there forms of documenting or reflecting on or writing about practice that prevent us from understanding elements of it?
  • Thinking about the relationship between sense/experience and style.
  • How important is style in choreographic research?
  • How important is design?

References On Translation:

Choreographic Research Aotearoa

On Mapping: Hyperrhiz