Legacies, genealogies and possible futures at Nottdance 2013

This years Nottdance festival included a series of talks and talking events, many at Bonnington Gallery the space where much of the European conceptual dance work was programmed in Nottdance.

So it was an evocative moment to find myself in that same space, years later, speaking of works that had been performed there.


I’m sitting at a table. I click play on the laptop:

“Nottdance Festival 1999, here at Bonnington Gallery, French choreographer Jerome Bel performed the piece ‘Jerome Bel.’ Two days previously this piece was performed at Yorkshire Dance. Bel’s work has not, at this point, been programmed in London. The regional dance agencies Yorkshire Dance and Dance4, with Jane Geenfield as artistic director, are leading the introduction of European conceptual dance to the UK.” 

Conceptual dance is associated with an insistence on presence in performance and a suspicion of representation (Andre Lepecki 2004). For conceptual dance makers these concerns often involve an exposing of processes in performance that make evident how representation operates. This was what Bel did in ‘Jerome Bel.’ He exposed in the performance event itself, how something is presented as ‘standing for’, something else. The piece ‘Jerome Bel’ has been described as a ‘critique of representation.’ Representational thinking, in seeing something ‘as if’ it is something else, is an approach to thinking that operates through recognition.


I’ve been looking at Nottdance programming and at works that I think extend from Bel’s critique, works that address issues of presence and representation differently. I’ve been interested in works that somehow manage to evoke ways of thinking and perceiving that are non-representational: that are not based on recognition. In my hunt for such possibilities I have encountered three texts that exist as part of works that were performed at Nottdance. These texts/works are ‘Schreibstück’ by Thomas Lehmen, ‘The General Rules Score for Project’ by Xavier Le Roy and Fiona Templeton’s text for ‘Invisible Dances’ by Bock & Vincenzi.

Each of theses texts operates differently; my engagement with each is different. But as ‘things’ they each exist simultaneously as object and as potential for the reader or listener to encounter the work anew. Each encounter activates processes in the reader or listener that bring awareness to her processes of thinking, sensing and sense-making. In this way these works operate in a trajectory that does more than critique representation.

Possible Futures

And these texts keep on …

The full text of the performance lecture will be published at a later date.

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