Research output: Practice-Based and Non-textual ResearchPerformance



    Rewriting is a practice-based research which reimagines the choreographic, not as a site of pre-conceived conceptual clarity, but as accumulation and overlap of intangible and sometimes redundant knowledges coexisting within sensory and motor memory. Such fragments find context through daily practice of what Deborah Hay1 - describes as learning 'what my dances will become through the practice of very uninteresting sequences of movement material that has almost no meaning or value to me.' This echoes the writing of poet and theorist Édouard Glissant2 - who posited that 'the accumulation of sediments' would replace the notion of 'lighting flashes' within poetic work. The making of dance is repositioned in Rewriting not in relation to the tendency towards concept of the past twenty years, but with weight given rather to the role of slow doing and memorisation, held as resource within the body. It touches upon both the concept of simultaneous overlapping and invisible histories held within the body in the writing of Nadia Serematakis3 - as well as Bojana Kunst's4  premise that slow and daily practice within contemporary dance culture represents the possibility that 'there exists another mode of exchange...not economised, not framed in the value of productivity'. 

    The piece began with a process of daily research into a long memorised sequence of movement from a now abandoned piece which was never performed. What might it mean to have embodied and retained redundant material, cut loose from contextualising anchors? This material is overlapped with a simultaneous memorised lecture on A Choreographer's Handbook, triggered by 108 postcards each with a statement or question from the book. 

    The daily practice of Rewriting follows Deborah Hay's5 methodology (Solo Commissioning Project 1998-2002) of 'noticing the infinitely momentary feedback that arises from my daily performance...influenced by the immediacy arising from the same questions day after day after day'.


    - Performance link:


    - Practice link:

    Rewriting as practice

    The Family Piece (opening minute) (abandoned piece/source) 

    - Production credits:

    choreography and performance by Jonathan Burrows

    Rewriting was co-produced by PACT Zollverein Essen, Sadler's Wells Theatre London and BIT Teatergarasjen Bergen

    - Timescale: 45 minutes

    - Premiere: 

    Stamsund International Festival, Norway, 29th May 2019

    - Further performances to date: 

    C-DaRE Coventry University (sharing), 7th February 2019

    Hebden Bridge Arts Festival, 30th June 2019

    Leopold Gallery, Impulstanz Festival Vienna, Austria, 5th (twice), 6th, 7th, 8th August 2019

    Pact Zollverein Essen, Germany, 21st/22nd (twice) March 2020 (postponed due to coronavirus lockdown)

    Rimi Scene Kunst, Stavanger, Norway, 18th April 2020 (postponed due to cornavirus lockdown)

    Kaaitheater Brussels, Belgium, 24th/25th April 2020 (cancelled due to cornavirus lockdown)

    Potsdamer Tanztage, Potsdam, 10th/11th August 2020

    Submerge at Lake Studios Berlin, Germany, 11th/12th September 2020

    Monoplay Festival, Zadar, Poland, 28th August (performance replaced by film screening due to coronavirus travel restrictions)

    Dance Week Festival, Zagreb, Croatia, 19th November 2020 (cancelled due to coronavirus lockdown)

    Cofestival, Kino Šiška, Lithuania, 21st November 2020 (cancelled due to coronavirus lockdown)

    Baylis Theatre Sadler's Wells London, 20th (twice), 21st (twice) January 2021 (postponed due to coronavirus lockdown)

    - References:

    1 Deborah Hay, Using The Sky, Routledge, 2015, p.103

    2 Édouard Glissant, The Poetics of Relation, 1997, The University of Michigan Press, p.33 

    3 Nadia Serematakis, The Senses Still, The University of Chicago Press, p.20

    4 Bojana Kunst, from an email exchange in relation to Burrows' talk on practice What would be another word for it?, September 16th 2018

    5 Deborah Hay, How do I recognize my choreography? Deborah Hay Company Archives, 2007

    - Related presentations by Jonathan Burrows:

    Archive, text written for a video installation Der Moderne Tanz, commissioned as part of the exhibition Art/Music/Dance Staging the Derra de Moroda Dance Archives at the Museum der Moderne Salzburg Austria, 2016. Link to video installation: Der Moderne Tanz

    Politics, talk given at Inventur#2–Contemporary Dance And Performance Conference at Tanzhaus NRW Düsseldorf, June 2nd 2017 (also published as part of A World Of Muscle, Bone And Organs, Research And Scholarship In Dance, an ebook edited by Simon Ellis, Hetty Blades and Charlotte Waelde for CDaRE Coventry University, 2018.)

    The gaps between, talk on practice and the notion of accumulating dust in the performance work of Mette Edvardsen and Vlatka Horvat, given as part of the series Realities of the Scripted for Hessische Theaterakademie and Department of Applied Theatre Studies Giessen University, 2019

    What would be another word for it?, talk on practice as not yet art, invited by Chrysa Parkinson for Doch School of Dance and Circus, Stockholm University of the Arts, 2018

    What would be another word for it?, performance version of talk, given as closing lecture for CDaRE Somatics Conference, Coventry University, 2019

    Music For Lectures/She Dancing, talk with rock band led by Katye Coe, looking at slow practice in relation to the autonomy of the woman dancer, performances so far in:

    - Pact Zollverein Essen, 3rd February 2018

    - mac Birmingham, 13th June 2018

    - Hebden Bridge Arts Festival Hebden Bridge, June 29th 2019

    - NottDance Festival Nottingham, 9th October 2019

    - Other writing and citations in relation to Burrows' research on practice in performance:

    A Choreographer's Handbook, by Jonathan Burrows, Routledge, 2010

    Jonathan Burrows, Towards a Minor Dance, by Daniella Perazzo Domm, published by Palgrave MacMacmillan, 2019

    Choreographing Problems, by Bojana Cvejić, Palgrave MacMillan, 2014

    The Persistence of Dance: Choreography, Art and Experimental Composition Since the 1950s, by Erin Brannigan, Oxford University Press, 2020

    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationNorway; Coventry; Hebden Bridge; Leopold Gallery, Vienna
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2019


    • Dance Performance


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