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‘Ah Ha’ Moments: Novice Choreographers Using Defamiliarization in Digital Choreographic Technologies

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Thesis type
(Dissertation) Ph.D.
Date created
Choreography is a complex compositional and embodied creative process that often relies on ‘co-imagining’ between choreographer and dancer, and more recently between choreographer and technology as a strategy in generating new movement ideas. Adding technology into the choreographic process is a unique challenge because choreographers generate, augment and assess movement through and on their bodies. Technology has historically been used as a tool to augment creative opportunities in choreographic process;; often these varied choreographic support tools are designed to function as a ‘blank slate’ for choreography. However, these choreographic tools do not necessarily contribute to the design of creative ideas, instead functioning on low levels mainly as notebooks, annotation tools and idiosyncratic empty canvases. My research investigates the experience of novice choreographer’s ‘ah ha’ moments in their creative process by addressing a gap that exists within current digital choreographic creativity support tools. This gap is the ability to co-imagine novel movement choices between choreographer and technological support system. ‘Ah ha’ moments refer to moments in creative choreographic process that present new insight, understanding or choices and that bridge connections for a choreographer, contributing to a new awareness that results in novel movement material, or novel approaches to structuring movement: reflection of an iterative process. Collaboration is often recognized as a key element in compositional process between choreographers and dancers, and is recently described as a process of ‘Co-Imagination’ by performance theorist Andre Lepecki. Co-Imagination is the process of imagining the creative possibilities interactively together, yet with unequal creative control. While this is a common practice in contemporary choreography, the choreographic strategies of back-and-forth interactions (with mutual participation) is seldom considered and is under researched as a creativity tool for choreography. In the research presented in this thesis, I have explored the concept of applying generative algorithms in the creation of movement catalysts that can propose novel choices to the choreographer. I have designed, implemented and evaluated these generative choreographic procedures (which I have titled ‘Cochoreo’) to the existing choreographic support tool ‘idanceForms’ (idF). Novice choreographers were asked to design short choreographies using idF over a week. Data was collected through observation and focus group discussions and analyzed through grounded-theory inspired thematic methods. The contribution of this work situates the design and practice of interactive choreographic systems within creativity theory to explore future design of iterative and provocative technology for supporting movement, creativity and co-imagination.
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Scholarly level
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Schiphorst, Thecla
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