Thinking Movement, Moving Thought

by | Sep 25, 2017 | 7 comments

This Group aims to make enquiry into the nature of the relationships between Movement, Philosophy and Psychology. Using Laban’s framework for understanding these relationships in the first instance, but also an investigation using other epistemologies in other fields in order to further our knowledge for research and practice purposes. All welcome.


  1. Juliet Chambers-Coe

    Dear Movement Thinking Group members! I would like to propose a reading group on the topic of movement-thinking. This could include texts concerning phenomenology in movement and dance, embodied cognition, movement and mental health, kinesthetic intelligence and so on. I’m happy to suggest texts but wondered if any Group members might like to propose something interesting they’ve come across?

  2. Juliet Chambers-Coe

    Ben Spatz new methodological framework in observation, performance practice and documentation. After two days of working on this with Ben I’m thinking about ‘video-thinking’ and wondering if capturing human movement on video can ever capture/reveal/trace embodiment. By switching roles as practitioner, director and videographer Ben aims to democratise the creative research space. As a movement analyst I’m thinking about transmission and documentation and wondering if the videographer is really that different from the analyst-observer: both select parameters of observations, both record what they think is important /significant /interesting. The question always remains for both however and which hasn’t been addressed in Bens discourse – for what reason am I observing and making analysis? Ben suggests that the video itself reveals embodied thought. In video unlike notation, the human body of the mover is traced in an audio visual archive at the same time as the videographers decisions/embodied use of camera and what to film. Authorship in this instance is therefore shared between performer, witness/director and videographer. As participants all three figures rotate roles enabling a view of the practice from the inside of the experience something that can never be captured by an external added dimension of the ‘camera’ used so often at the final stages of practice and rehearsal or to capture a ‘performance ‘. Thoughts? Bens article here. ..
    (2018). The video way of thinking. South African Theatre Journal. Ahead of Print.

  3. cate deicher

    Hello All – I’ve been reflecting on the presentation that Amy Shapiro and I gave at the Sept. 22 event – Thinking Movement/Moving Thought – at the University of Surrey, and decided to put some things down in print. Here are a few thoughts about what we did, and about aspects of our preparation

    Part of our working process was to articulate outcomes. What did we want to happen?

    We wanted our presentation to contribute to the credibility and importance of movement knowledge – which we mean in the broadest sense, including everyday kinds of movement. We recognize the common habit of privileging speech, and how that privileging undermines the contribution of movement to our way of knowing.

    Amy and I set out to explore the intersection of our disciplines (philosophy and movement study), and how that might influence our individual practices. We talked and moved together, challenging each other to make connections and probe deeply, and wanted participants to engage in conversation along the lines we had engaged to help bring movement knowing into focus.

    At the end of the movement exploration/improvisation, we asked the workshop participants: what do you know now that you didn’t know before? Then we tagged this on: In what ways might what you know now be distinct from verbal knowing?

    If time had permitted, we would have asked further:

    – How does movement – as an epistemology/theory of knowing – alter relationship to our sense of self?

    – How does engaging movement influence or inform how we understand what it means to be human?

    From a movement perspective, I had several questions in the back of my mind that I considered for reflection after the improvisation:

    – How did you learn your way around or get the hang of the improvisation?

    – It’s been said that we find our movement/our way through the movement of another; how do you respond to that?

    What kinds of cues did you discover?

    Was your experience in any way “reorganizational”? i.e. in terms of how you experience yourself, others, environment, thought processes, being seen, emotions…

    We stayed with the experience of walking for a long time; did anything change about that activity?

    As observers, what did you notice? What’s the difference between participating on the inside and the outside?

    An idea that emerged for me during our planning phase, was that of a particular lemniscate – a moebius strip as a model of language, or perhaps thought. When you look at this form from the outside it appears as if it has two distinct loops, much like a 2-dimensional figure eight. But when you trace the 3-dimensional continuous surface of it, you see that it just appears that way. The surface bends and twists, making you shift your perception. Is it helpful to think of that continuous surface as an interplay of speech and movement? That they are not two distinct domains?

    When we played around with this idea, Amy coined the term “lemniscape”. It came to stand in for the territory we were exploring.

    Early on, Amy and recognized the problem/limitations of using speech to explore what movement can mean. Amy suggested that we have to “talk around” it to get at the meaning/importance of movement. I would like to work more on nailing that down.

    One last thing. In the Laban Studies world, attention to space is discussed as affined with thought. I’ve always been intrigued by that, and Amy and I spent a lot of time discussing and moving through ideas of space. At one point she asked me why I thought space was important, and while I have a perspective on that, I think it’s better to pose a few of the questions we asked ourselves: What happens when you shift your attention away from space as ground to space as figure? When you pay attention to how the shape of space changes as you move about? When you include peripheral vision as part of your attending to anything?

  4. Juliet Chambers-Coe


  5. Juliet Chambers-Coe

    *Performance Philosophy and Sufism* A two-day symposium hosted by the Centre for Performance Philosophy *Oct 6th-7th

    A two-day symposium and workshop on relationships between contemporary performance philosophy and Sufism.
    This event is the first in a 3 part series looking at interconnected yet distinct notions of spirituality, spirit, the spiritual, and spiritualism, from a pluralist perspective

    Sufism is broadly known as the mystical or interior dimension of Islam, and is argued by many to be the very heart of original Islam. Its diverse modes of practice (dhikr, prayer, fasting, study, music, whirling) centre on purification of the individual by way of preparation for divine union. In relation to performance philosophy, such Sufi practices can be viewed as actions which philosophise universal (spiritual and nonspiritual, timeless) truths. The methodologies, or spiritual technologies, that open these truths within the student or devotee are living, breathing philosophies which may or may not be explicable via language or linear thought. This event focuses on the actioned practices of Sufism.Differentiating the process from an embodiment of abstract notions via practice, the philosophies themselves are manifested/realised/perceptibly known in multilayered and nuanced individual forms.

    With contributions from international experts, the event will include:
    The film: A screening of the film, ‘The Woman Who Whirls’ (2017) – an ethno-poetics of contemporary whirling practice – produced by Hannah McClure and directed by Ella Wood
    The workshop: Participatory whirling workshop led by Azize Guvenc, Hande and Emre Basaran and Faridah Busemann
    The talks: Discussions on intercultural philosophy and practice by Cosimo Zene (SOAS) and Dunja Njaradi (Lancaster) and others.
    The opera: A presentation on ‘Say I am You Mevlana’ (2012), a full length opera for an intercultural musical ensemble and orchestra by its composer, Michael Ellison.
    The journal launch: The launch of ‘Global Journeys of Sufi Whirling, Sufism and Arts Practice’ a special issue of the journal Dance, Movement, Spiritualities (Intellect), co-edited by Hannah McClure and Dunja Njaradi.

    OCT 6th 10am-5pm with special participatory workshop and delegate presentations
    OCT 7th 9am-4pm with keynote addresses, film screenings, panels, papers and reception
    REGISTRATION £26 inclusive of lunches/tea/coffee/reception

    BOOK NOW at

    Dr. Dunja Njaradi is an associate editor of Dance, Movement, Spiritualities. She completed her doctorate on somatic movement and choreography in the department of Theatre Studies at Lancaster University. Publications include several articles and edited volumes on spirituality, somatics and ethnography. Dunja currently teaches at The University of Belgrade in the department of Ethnomusicology and is actively researching and teaching on topics of agency, histories and personal spiritualities.

    Dr. Michael Ellison grew up in Istanbul as the son of American ex-pats and later completed his music education at Tufts (MA) and his doctorate at The University of California Santa Barbara. Currently affiliated with The University of Bristol, Michael researches the music of Turkey and Anatolia, collisions and intersections of culture and contemporary opera. An active artist and composer, Michael is an ongoing codirector the Hezarfen Ensemble in Istanbul. Recent works include ‘The Sea Crossed Fisherman’ (2016), and ‘Say I am You Mevlana’ (2012) both full length operas for intercultural musical ensembles and orchestra.

    The late Dr. Rahmi Oruc Guvenc is a sufi master, a music therapist, an ethnomusicologist, a composer and a poet.He studied philosophy at the Faculty of Literature, Istanbul University. At the Cerrahpasa Faculty of Medicine, Istanbul he completed his doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology, focusing traditional music therapy. Oruc Guvenc founded the ‘Centre for Research and Application of Turkish Music’ at Cerrahpasa Faculty of Medicine. Later, he was appointed lecturer at the ‘Unit for the Research and Promotion of Turkish Music’ at the Turkic Research Institute of Marmara University.Earlier, in 1975, Oruc Guvenc had founded TUMATA (Group for the Research and Promotion of Turkish Music) and began researching the origins and healing properties of Central Asian music. He will be represented by Azize Andrea Guvenc, an ergotherapist, musician and his closest collaboratress as well as some of his closest students, Hande and Emre Basaran and Faridah Busemann.

    Professor Cosimo Zene is a specialist in Religion and Philosophy at The School Of African and Oriental Studies, London. With a particular emphasis on religions as lived philosophies and the need for dialogue between philosophies, Professor Zene opens a space for intersections and conversation – ultimately toward the goal of harmony and peace. His expertise in the parallel, conflicting and complementary structures of thought and practice in Bangladesh, India and South Asia bridge now outdated East-West and North-South divides. As chair of his department he has created the new BA program in World Philosophies, emphasising plurality and dialogue and leading the way in new thinking.

    ‘The Woman Who Whirls’ (2017) is an ethno-poetics of contemporary whirling practice. It speaks from and to the nature of whirling through visual and spoken non-linear narrative. Broadly experimental in its visual style, the film invites the observer into the inner world of the dervish through its cinematography and editing choices. Issues of tradition and agency, methodologies of practice, and contemporary spirituality are considered. The film was screened with live performance at Liverpool Hope University in April of this year and will be formally premiered on the festival circuit 2018. It runs 11 minutes 34 seconds. Produced and performed by Dr. Hannah McClure, Director Ella Wood.

    Performance Philosophy and Sufism symposium | University of Surrey – Guildford A two-day symposium hosted by the Centre for Performance Philosophy

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