Dancing in the shaking world – Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium 2019

Footage of the presentation: Dancing in the shaking world by Chris Bannerman, ZHAO Zhibo & MA Jiaolong on 16 May 2019 at the Global Improvisation Initiative Symposium 2019, Middlesex University.

A mixed-mode presentation involving a speaker, Prof Chris Bannerman, standing at a lectern placed in a dance studio, accompanied by projected video footage and by two performers, ZHAO Zhibo and MA Jiaolong, who are senior artists with the Dance Company of the Beijing Dance Academy.

The spoken text focused on the history of improvisation in dance, both relating and distinguishing it to/from some key theatre practices that have been influential in Britain, and linking both to the scientific realms of emergence, string and chaos theories. A central focus, however, was on the emerging future of a mobile world and the glimpses of the unknown that may be discernible today if we are looking in the right direction.

Principally this concerned concepts of ‘the global’, what this means in 2018 and through what means it is envisioned. Issues of language, context and shifting geopolitical tectonic plates were examined by the speaker and by the movers who animate, illustrate, contradict and subvert the text, while paradoxically maintaining a sense of harmony.

References to harmony were located within Chinese traditions of awareness including Huineng’s poetic assertion of ‘no mind’, notions of ‘subtle practice without dwelling’, and the wú wèi or actionless action of Daoism. The ramifications of these for Chinese thought, aesthetics and culture was considered, as were the ramifications for a global dialogue that can take account of the Chinese presence in the world.