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Cities and Choreographies

Part 1 Dissertation 2002
Vicky Spanovangelis
Royal College of Art | UK

Cities and Choreographies

What is the space of choreographers and architects, and how can we define a set of ideas, concepts and notions that bring these two modes of space-practice together? As an architect and choreographer, space and the body, and the infinite and various ways in which bodies produce space fascinate me. There is also something captivating about the architect's, and the choreographer's imagination of space. When these two modes produce space, one is effectively the inverse process of the other.

In essence, performance relies on a performer and a spectator. However, performance is the effect of the collaboration between creator, performer, and spectator. Similarly architecture is co-produced by architects, builders, and inhabitants/users. This study is concerned with how one comes to know the city through space-practice. This is considered in three instances:

1. Examples of my own work as choreographer - site specific piece (1.06)
2. As a citizen/ inhabitant/ tourist.
3. As a theatre spectator - the work of Theatre Encorps.

These studies offer an interesting cross-section of performance activity sampling characteristics unique to site specific work as a partially 'controlled' intervention within the city, and the full 'control' of performance within the theatrical frame. Furthermore, the study of tourist/city/inhabitant serves as an interesting state of performance to cross-reference with, the site-specific, and theatrical productions of performance.

These three sources of material are used with the aim of arriving at some possible conclusion of what one might consider to be the space between choreographic and architectural practice, and how one might consider future design methodologies. In addition, it also provides some idea of how the architecture historian may approach the temporal ramifications of these two practices in relation to the social interactions, productions and reproductions of space that they both imply and create.

Examples of architecture are drawn upon from a performance perspective to consider the ideas of orientation and stability in relation to architectural practice. The conclusions drawn may provide some possibilities for the potential of choreography and architecture as modes of space practice implicit to and explicit to the contemporary urban condition.

Vicky Spanovangelis

This project represents an extraordinarily exciting investigation of the potential of a specific cross-disciplinary practice, one that links architecture and choreography. Whilst the possibilities offered to each other by both architecture and dance have been widely recognised, and indeed have been the subject of a number of recent theoretical speculations, what makes this student's work unique is that she is herself an actual practitioner in both disciplines, and she is using the medium of the disasertation to help her explore and expand her ways in which she can herself engage in a synthetic practice that utilises her own expertise in both.

Whilst this is clearly a text-based project, and therefore primarily concerned with exploring and articulating a theoretical position, nonetheless her dissertation does provide a fascinating insight into how architecture and choreography might combine within a design process, through the medium of the student's own drawings. It is clear to me that the ambitions of this project cannot be wholly realised through words alone, and that one of the delights of this project is that it attempts a sophisticated dialogue between text and image.

For me, the most exciting dissertations are those that not only demonstrate a sophisticated and articulate understanding of a specific subject, but more than that actually aim to identify a new and unprecedented field of study. In this case the student, working outside of an established discourse, has succeeded in opening up a potentially significant area for further research and practice. And whilst this is clearly just one part of a much wider work in progress - which incidentally I also think is the sign of a good dissertation - she has already created something that should be of use and interest to practitioners and theorists working in both her disciplines, and I am glad that it will now reach a wider audience.

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