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 an accumulation and overlap of intangible and sometimes redundant knowledges coexisting within the sensory and motor memory. Such fragments find their context through the daily practice of what 1*Deborah Hay 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 viewpoint echoes the writing of poet and theorist 2*Édouard Glissant, who posited that 'the accumulation of sediments' would replace the notion of 'lighting flashes' within the 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. This research touches upon both the concept of simultaneous overlapping and often invisible histories held within the body in the writing of 3*Nadia Serematakis, as well as 4*Bojana Kunst's premise that slow and daily practice within contemporary dance culture represents the possibilty that 'there exists another mode of exchange...not economised, not framed in the value of productivity'. This research forms part of a wider current concern within dance and anthropological studies in relation to the understanding, safeguarding and valorisation of tacit knowledge.

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 still retain this now redundant material, cut loose from any contextualising anchor? This movement material is overlapped with a simultaneous memorised lecture on A Choreographer's Handbook, triggered by 108 blank postcards each with a statement or question from the book.


- Vimeo link: password: rewriting

- 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, 20th, 21st (twice) March 2020

Baylis Theatre Sadler's Wells London, 2nd (twice), 3rd (twice) April 2020

Stavanger Interational Festival, Norway, 18th April 2020

Kaaitheater Brussels, Belgium, 24th/25th April 2020

Submerge at Lake Studios Berlin, Germany, 10th/11th July 2020

- Citations:

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

- 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: password: dermodernetanz

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
Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2019


  • Dance Performance

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    Burrows, J. (Artist). (2019). Rewriting. Performance