Inside Movement Knowledge

[beginPage: Intro]

2009 - 2010

Inside Movement Knowledge (IMK) was a two-year interdisciplinary research project into new methods for documentation, transmission and conservation of contemporary choreographic and dance knowledge. The primary partners were ICK Amsterdam, Emio Greco I PC, the Netherlands Media Art Institute, the Faculty for Media and Culture of the University of Utrecht and the Dance training program and research group of the Lecturship in art practice and artistic development at the Amsterdam Hogeschool voor de Kunsten.

The project IMK came to an end with the Dance Notation Series on 14 and 15 January 2011 at Studio Habertu in Amsterdam.
Event info

The NIMK research team (Annet Dekker, Gaby Wijers and Vivian van Saaze) focused, in collaboration with EG | PC dance company and researchers attached to the LKAO, primarily on the documentation of hitherto intangible artistic processes.

The 75 page Documentation Model for EG | PC’s Extra Dry is now available. View the Table of Contents (PDF single page opens in its own window)

For a PDF version of the Documentation Model of Extra Dry contact Francien Eppens at: francien (at) ickamsterdam (dot) nl.


The rtrsrch Vol.2 Issue 2 [NOTATION] (published March 2010) is available.
Contact information to obtain a hard copy here.
Download in pdf format.



[beginPage: IMK model]

Why a Model?
In the context of the interdisciplinary Inside Movement Knowledge project, the research team from the Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk): Gaby Wijers, Annet Dekker and Vivian van Saaze were invited to explore the possibilities of developing a generic documentation model for contemporary dance by drawing from their experiences in the preservation, documentation and knowledge transfer of media art. What do we need to know in order to be able to recreate, reperform, or in other ways bring the performance piece into the future?

The key objective of the NIMk research team was to develop a methodology that allows to gain insight into artistic reasoning in such a way that it provides future dancers, choreographers and researchers an understanding of their work. (The term ‘artistic reasoning’ here is used in relation to the body of knowledge that is involved in the artistic process. We use the term artistic reasoning to place emphasis on the decision-making and problem-solving that is inherent to the artistic and creative process. Yet, rather than following the artistic process ‘in real time’; we have focused on tracing and documenting information that provides insight into artistic reasoning through interviews, literature research and by comparing respective performances of Extra Dry).

Right from the start, the research team decided to focus primarily on the case study Extra Dry, a seminal piece which has been performed in several versions. Extra Dry is the third part of the trilogy Fra Cervelle e Movimiento (translated as: Between Brain and Movement). Fra Cervello e Movimento is a set of three performances — Bianco, Rosso, Extra Dry. Where Bianco and Rosso are solos Extra Dry is a duet, the first big stage co-production and staged for over 10 years with different casts. In capturing the artistic process, questions that emerged are:
What are the essential elements of this work (in its ‘finished’ condition) that should be captured so that the documentation better reflects those invariable properties that make Extra Dry the performance that it is. How do new performers or changes in music, lights, and set effect Extra Dry?

This model is a work-in-progress and part of ongoing research. During the research period the model has been adjusted and refined. The IMK-laboratory week of April 2010 has been dedicated to collecting information, as well as to gathering and processing feedback from IMK partners, the international advisory team, and external specialists. The feedback on the concept model has proved to be very valuable and has helped to further develop the model into a useful tool.

Interestingly, all feedback groups valued the model for different reasons and expressed the wish to use and further develop the documentation model for their own practices. Thus, although the model as presented here is an end-result of the IMK research as carried out by the AHK and partners, it should also be considered as a point in an ongoing inquiry, and we hope that it will be scrutinized and further developed by a manifold of different users.

Feedback groups:

EG|PC: Bertha Bermudez and Barbara Meneses

Utrecht University: Maaike Bleeker and Laura Karreman

AHK dance teachers: John Taylor. Maria Ines Villasmil, Vivianne Rodrigues

linguist: Carla Ferndandes

dramaturges: Fransien van de Putt and Andrea Bozic

dance scholar: Jeroen Fabius

international experts: Caitlin Jones, Reinhard Beck, Sami Kallinen.


[beginPage: Objectives and Challenges]
In order to narrow the project down, we decided not to look into representation of movement/ body analysis or visualization of movement dynamics that underlie the structure of the performance. For the transfer of EG|PC’s movement vocabulary and method, the installation Double Skin / Double Mind and the video-registrations are, in our understanding, the instrument suited for movement transfer. Thus. the model should be understood in addition to the installation and video recordings.

Although current documentation research in media art is expanding to include user/spectator experience, in the scope of this project, we have not been able to include the relevance and mapping methods used for this live element of media art. Our focus was to develop a general documentation approach that would provide a framework to structure the essential information required for a re-construction of an already existing work.

Rather than following artists during the process of producing a new work (sher (re-creation approach), we traced and gathered information about a piece that has been, and still is, reperformed by the company. This approach of course has effect on the type of information that has found its way to the documentation model.

During the documentation process we realized that our background in contemporary fine arts (rather than choreography and dance) was sometimes an advantage; e.g. in terms of transferring experience in the documentation and conservation of contemporary art to contemporary dance, and bringing in a ‘fresh eye’ on things.

In terms of gathering and producing information it, however, at times meant a drawback as we do not master the vocabulary and knowledge that is necessary to complete the model according to the standard that we had initially set. Sections at which we particularly found ourselves lacking the required background are for example: movement material and dramaturgical analysis. Although we tried to compensate this by consulting dance specialists from within and outside the IMK research project, we realize that this type of information should be added to the model.

Another challenge was to develop a model that would provide insight into the artistic reasoning and working process of EG|PC, but that would not limit itself to the work of EG|PC. Put differently: the model is developed for capturing information on Extra Dry by EG|PC and should also provide a framework that is fitting to capture other creative processes by the company as well as outside of the company. To which extent the model succeeds in this goal, is a question to be answered by future users.

Parameters of Change

Our research has focused on the type of information that would provide insight into the working process of EG|PC and the realization of Extra Dry in order to arrive at a reconstruction. Therefore, of keen interest for us was the reasoning behind significant changes in the sequence of existing performances of Extra Dry. To gain more understanding in decision-making, we tried to include information that would not only explain what is done, but also why it is done and what the parameters of change are according to Emio Greco and Pieter Scholten as well as other sources.

The model, in other words, tries to encompass both ‘know how’ and ‘know that’. ‘Know how’ is concerned with practical reason and doing and is related to tacit, practical knowledge, and skills as distinct from theoretical knowledge and reasoning. For example: What is the role of the costumes and why is this particular kind of material used for the costumes and why was this material chosen above others?


[beginPage: Users and Usages]
As our goal was to develop a generic model, we didn’t want to exclude any user-groups from the outset. However, as the model developed we realized that although the model and its content may be taken up by different user-groups, in order to better organize and prioritize information we needed to decide on a focus-group. In line with the set-up of the IMK-research project we therefore decided on the EG|PC Company as key user. This means that the model should first and foremost fit within the goals of ICK; providing an information structure that may help the company to document and reflect on their previous performances, containing specific documentation of Extra Dry. Of course, the different objectives do not need to exclude each other.

The documentation model can be used as a tool for annotation in the sense that it offers a way to describe a existing work, and provides a structure to order this information. In combination with the score, the installation, and video-registrations it should provide inside knowledge into the working process of EG|PC’s and the elements of Extra Dry that are considered crucial to the sources that we consulted. The model is additional to the ICK-archive (which consists of individual documents) in the sense that it structures the information in a different way and with a distinct goal. Moreover, the model has also produced new materials and pieces of information that were lacking from the archive.


[beginPage: Working Approach]
The main objective for the NIMk team was to develop a model for documentation. Our goal was to develop a model (graphically represented) that will then be tested and refined. As a starting point, we first looked into existing methods of capturing media art and contemporary dance performances, mediation for re-enactment and representation and parameters of change/restrictions (what is possible, and what is not possible). Parallel to the undertaking of capturing content we compared and evaluated documentation models already in use for capturing media art.

Many of the models that we analysed reflect the transition that has taken place in the artform - from object to process and context while acknowledging variability in time as essential elements of a work. This corresponded, in our view, very well with the different phases and stages in contemporary dance. What was extremely helpful in these recent documentation models was that they consist of specific questions that focus on the parameters of change: How much changing
is allowed on the art before it becomes something else? These and other question helped us to analyse and understand contemporary dance. Some question proved useful to get a grip on the material we were dealing with, whereas others showed us our lack of inside knowledge in the discipline. Most of all it helped us to see what was missing and where adjustments were needed
in order to develop a usable documentation model for contemporary dance.

Similarly, we explored existing methods and models, and dance analyse, notation and reconstruction to find an optimum form to define, formulate and structure the relevant data. (For a more detailed description of our working approach, see the NIMk research team contributions in Notation, Amsterdam School of the Arts 2010, pp. 15–27).

In terms of capturing Extra Dry, we proceeded by collecting, categorizing and classifying relevant information derived from Extra Dry trough conducting interviews, literature research and by comparing respective performances of Extra Dry. The core is formed by the vision of the makers expressing what is important to Extra Dry. In this sense, the model can be considered a hybrid: a combination of strategies to enable recreating the work.

The information sources can be categorized in several layers. Ideally these layers are graphically represented and connections can be made between the different layers. The hierarchy between the different levels is made visible by graphic representation:

First layer: information from interviews with Emio Greco, Pieter C. Scholten,
Bertha Bermudez, Barbara Meneses, and Paul Beumer conducted by NIMk team (Interview quotes have been slightly adjusted to approve legibility);
Second layer: information from the ICK website and other ICK sources;
Third layer: information from interviews with Emio and Pieter conducted by others;
Fourth layer: information from secondary literature.

The rtrsrch Vol.2 Issue 2 [NOTATION] (published March 2010) is available. Contact information to obtain a hard copy here.


[beginPage: IMK model Structure]

(For practical reasons we have chosen to start with a linear text-based documentation model. Designer Stephen Serrato will explore the possibilities of transforming the collected data into a more accessible format).

In the first chapter, the company and work of EG|PC are introduced. The aim of the chapter is to provide insight into the context in which Extra Dry is conceived and performed. In addition to information on the collaboration between Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten, their oeuvre, the company and its activities, this section also seeks to provide insight into several concepts and building bricks that are considered of key importance to EG|PC.

Chapter two zooms into Extra Dry and elaborates on its origins as part of a trilogy. The chapter starts with a detailed work-description and provides several readings/interpretations of the work by means of reviews and analysis. The structure of Extra Dry is mentioned and the positioning of the piece in EG|PC’s repertoire. Special attention is paid to the Seven Necessities in relation to Extra Dry.

In order to provide insight into the creative process and artistic reasoning, chapter three attempts to reconstruct the choices and decisions made during this process. To understand the parameters of what can change and what not — in other words: what is considered essential to Extra Dry — the respective performances of Extra Dry have been compared with a focus on: (choice of) dancers, space, time, and audience relationship.

In chapter four we explore what is considered crucial to future reconstructions /rearticulations of Extra Dry. The chapter focuses on the preparation phase. This information may be of particular interest to dancers and technicians. The last chapter elaborates on the scenographical elements of Extra Dry.

The 75 page Documentation Model for EG | PC’s Extra Dry is now available. View the Table of Contents (PDF single page opens in its own window)

For a PDF version of the Documentation Model of Extra Dry contact Francien Eppens at: francien (at) ickamsterdam (dot) nl.


Table of Contents
1. Context
1.1 EG|PC The company
1.1.1 The International Choreographic Arts Centre Amsterdam
1.1.2 Salons
1.2 Emio Greco I Pieter C. Scholten
1.2.1 Biographies
1.2.2 Collaboration between EG|PC
1.3 Artistic Team
1.4 Important concepts
1.4.1 The Seven Necessities
1.4.2 Implications of the Seven Necessities
1.4.3 Glossary

2. The Work Fra Cervello e Movimento: Extra Dry
2.1 Description of the work
2.1.1 Fra Cervello e Movimento: Extra Dry
2.1.2 Title
2.2 Structure of Extra Dry
2.2.1 Score
2.2.2 Extra Dry Parts
2.3 Meanings of the work
2.3.1 Fra Cervelle e Movimiento
2.3.2 Extra Dry
2.3.3 The Seven Necessities with regard to Extra Dry

3. Phases and Parameters
3.1 Different phases in the creative process
3.2 Parameters of change
3.2.1 Dancers
3.2.2 Space
3.2.3 Time
3.2.4 Audience

4. Prerequisites for Reconstruction Extra Dry
4.1 What dancers need to learn
4.2 Warming Up
4.3 Installation
4.4 Workshop

5. Staging / Scenography
5.1 Collaboration artistic team
5.2 Stage
5.3 Cues
5.4 Light
5.5 Sound
5.6 Computer/Software


[beginPage: Evaluation and Further Research]
It will come as no surprise that our current approach is already quite time consuming. We are very much aware that such an approach is most likely not feasible for small companies or emerging choreographers, nevertheless it may help to document and reflect on their own working process. Interestingly, the model has already proved to be useful in terms of providing insight on what information is still lacking with regard to Extra Dry. Also, the model has helped to specify and formulate questions that were then posed to EG/PC. In this sense the model can be regarded as a tool; as a document that allows for further conversation, creating a workingdocument that encourages and deepens mutual inquiries.

At this moment in time the model has not yet been tested in relation to an actual reconstruction of Extra Dry by EG/PC or others. However, members of the feedback group have already mentioned the following user-possibilities: as a model to document other choreographies by EG/PC, as a documentation model to be used for choreographies by other choreographers, as information source for students working with and learning from EG/PC. Recognizing the importance of documentation for contemporary dance, we hope that by defining crucial categories and opening up our methodologies, the current model can contribute to working towards an accessible and workable format that can be used by others.