Best Practices in Contemporary Dance
Article on CreativeApplications.Net
Jorge Guevara and Naoto Hieda met over the internet as part of a series of meetups that Naoto organized during lockdown in April 2020, which turned into focused sessions called “Best Practices in Contemporary Dance”. Since then, on a weekly basis, Naoto Hieda in Cologne and Jorge Guevara in Brussels meet online to “practice” for an hour. We stream, distort and alter the videos of ourselves and each other both using commercial and/or open-source software to blend our bodies in the “pixel space”. We do not define what tools and components are to be used, and the practice might include spontaneous reading, writing, eating or body painting. The project is not intended to produce a performance; the practice itself is the outcome and the objective is to create a fluid, queer form of conversation between technology and bodies.
Another aspect of the process is a “chat”, a casual discussion to reflect on the practice. Both the practices and chats are recorded and uploaded on YouTube as a massive online archive. The project was presented at NODE20 Festival (Frankfurt, Germany) in PAF (Performing Arts Forum, Saint Erme, France) and SEADS (Space Ecologies Art and Design), and is going to be presented at IDOCDE (ImPulsTanz, Vienna, Austria) as (ever-)work-in-progress.
I started “Best Practices in Contemporary Dance” sessions with Jorge Guevara, based on an idea that emerged from the weekly “Choreographic Coding Online (CCOnline)” session. I posted this message on a Facebook group of Choreographic Coding Lab, a hacking/dancing jam for coders and dancers initiated by Motion Bank:
for the online CCL idea, as a test I will be online on April 4th 16:00-18:00 European / 10:00-12:00 Eastern so come say hi if you feel so, everyone is welcome 🙂 if I’m alone probably I will just work on my projects 😎
I continued CCOnline almost every week till the end of June, and I would call it successful as at least one person other than myself showed up in each session, such as Jorge and Lisa and Daniel from LAND Project. Jorge was online for most of the sessions; in some sessions with him, we did experiments on remote-video performance using OBS Studio screen capturing and virtual camera, and in other sessions, we discussed what could be the “best practices” in contemporary dance. It is not simply an irony to the current contemporary-dance scene, in which every dancer has different practices and often is self-referential, but also a proposition to explore contemporary dance in a systematic fashion.
Specifically in networked performances, not many dancers or artists know how to practice and to develop bodily expressions through a camera and a screen. I believe that we need a slow process to understand what it means to dance online; for example, an online analogy of a studio space has to be set up so that dancers and artists can gather to practice. This was the reason why I initiated CCOnline, and I am glad that people came to the session with similar intentions.
I suspended CCOnline for now, and currently I work with Jorge for more focused sessions, which are “Best Practices in Contemporary Dance” or “Best Practices”, “BPICD” for short. We meet once a week for an hour to perform between us, and the whole session is recorded and uploaded later. We do not discuss unlike we did in CCOnline, but we may use words to narrate. We imagine this session similar to a weekly TV program; at some point, we fix the day and time, and people can tune in to watch the performance, but it is a continuation of exploratory practices and is not meant to be a finished performance.
Another interest for us is how to archive the material. Currently, we are not interested in specific channels such as motion capture. We upload videos as a baseline, and we might annotate these videos using texts and images. Nevertheless, I believe a non-linear and adaptive system is the key, and thus we have not defined the specifications of how we archive the material.
Although CCOnline as an open session is paused for now, there are plans to continue the activities of CCOnline in different capacities. I will announce more details on this blog and on my social media when the plans are fixed.
Finally, here are some videos from the past CCOnline and Best Practice sessions.