Playing Dilettant Dramaturge, or What Criteria for What Purpose?


A workshop with Jennifer Lacey (June 18-22, 2012)

In collaboration with WorkSpaceBrussels, Sarma organizes in the course of 2012 several 'open dramaturgy' projects, which nurture artistic processes: workshops, laboratories and salons in which performance makers can exchange around practices and issues that occupy them. Linked to the Working Title Platform in June, Sarma organizes a cluster around 'dilettant dramaturgy', with choreographer Jennifer Lacey as central guest.

In her project "Ma première fois avec un dramaturge", Lacey had regular meetings with 'local, dillettant dramaturges' for discussions around issues such as 'the context and meaning of a dance, the relation between process and product, the incorporation and breaking of codes, the construction of personal freedom through process, and of social freedom through form.' The project yielded an archive (video and sound recordings, photos, notes, etc.) which now affords a practice of guided consultations 'to resolve problems of life and creation.' Lacey discusses this process in an interview. Drawing from this research, Lacey will lead a workshop - here is her announcement:

Workshop description

"Playing Dilettant Dramaturge, or What Criteria for What Purpose? In which our heroine is surprised by the multiplicity of positions available to her and learns to give great advice.

1) It is of our time to suppose that when we make something it creates its own criteria (include in this idea the act of flipping existing dominant codes around)

2) When we make something there is the moment where it becomes real in a different way from the realness of the process: when we expose it to others who don't live with it and don't love it like we do.

3) The clever thing to do is to integrate the outside within the inside so the shock of the above is not too great.

4) The contemporary dramaturge is born!

(It is hard to tell when I am joking. The above is not a joke but it is reductive and uses the Power Point form in a way that is clearly incompatible with the non-corporate-ness of the subject and of the probable audience.)

The world is in darkness and needs your help! Let us bring our powers to the land and alleviate the helplessness inherent in the human condition! Dance is such an opaque medium, so elusive and strange to the general population that the skills used to bring it to a state of comprehensibility are easily repurposed for clarifying other obscurities such as fate and finance! YOU have the power to change destinies with tools you do not even know you posses! (proselytizing crackpot voice, veering unsteadily between satire and parody)

For a while now I have been engaging with a certain kind of play involving the switching out of codes within process, making the voice of dominant contemporary judgement flexible by forcible bending and courting the absurd by inventing criteria without position. In this workshop we will do pretty much this and we will be working with dance because that's my expertise. What's interesting is what persists in our needs and point of view beyond any attempt to remove it or undermine it. Is it the elusive unicorn of the essential or just bad habits? For you to judge.

There are many repercussions to this sort of nonsense. Certain subterranean criteria that support our behavior may be revealed as unacceptable, leaving you confused. (drug insert)


More on the working principles of dilettant dramaturgy can be found in the extended documentation on Oral Site.

Bio Jennifer Lacey

Jennifer Lacey is choreographer/dancer from New York presently living in Paris. Her training and performance experience in New york had a wide range, from 5 years with the Randy Warshaw Dance Company to more experimental and improvistional works of Yvonne Meier and Jennifer Monson . She has been presenting work worldwide since 1991 at venues including P.S. 122, the Kitchen, the Klapstuk Festival, the Vienna Festwochen, ImPulsTanz, Tate Britian Danças na Cidade, the Bienale de Lyon, Montpellier Danse, Big Torino, Tanzquartier Wien, Centre Pompidou, Kyoto Arts Center, the Kaiitheater a.o. Since her arrival in France in 2000 she has been able to develop in depth her tendency to interrogate the methods of dance production and their relationship to product and form, arriving at work that is often but not always performative.

In the last 10 years, Jennifer Lacey has worked often in collaboration with visual artist Nadia Lauro producing performances and installations. Their last production "Les Assistantes" is currently touring. At present Lacey is collaborating with Antonija Livingstone on a new piece for the Avignon Festival. As far afield from traditional dance performance as the work often goes, Lacey is commited to her essential point of view as a dancer and strives to produce a thinking body of work in which poetics transcend a conceptual basis.

She has taught technique, improvisation, compostion etc. all over the globe for the last 15 years in institutions, studios and festivals. As a teacher Lacey has been influenced by her continuing studies with release technique pioneer Joan Skinner as well as her interest in yoga and Qi Gong. Her teaching emphasises the form through sensation and action as well as the relationship between process and product. She is currently overseeing the Essaies programme at the Centre National de la Dance in Angers.