Pause. Listen: Visibility and Freedom in Choreographic Practice

Chisato Ohno in Pause. Listen. Image by Simon Ellis

This writing is about the working relationship between a dancer and a choreographer. In it I consider some of the ethical values of making and presenting experimental contemporary dance. The chapter covers issues of visibility, authority, and freedom exposed by the development and production of a choreography called Pause. Listen by Chisato Ohno, Jackie Shemesh and me. The writing draws on the work of Randy Martin and Sally Gardner to question the extent to which agency and visibility can be distributed between dancers and choreographers through time and into performance. I also pull together the thinking and writing of Simone de Beauvoir, Ilya Prigogine and Henri Bergson to consider indeterminacy and freedom in relation to novelty and an ethics of choreography. Their work underpins my interest in conceiving choreography to have an ongoing and profoundly uncertain relationship with the future, and of the role of the choreographer to be akin to being a steward. The writing is itself an experiment: it contains more scholarly musings, the voices of others, and a series of letters to Chisato Ohno written well before she performed Pause. Listen.

It was published in a book called Dance and the Quality of Life, edited by Karen Bond.

Here’s a PDF of the chapter: ellis-2019-pause.pdf

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