Founded in 2020, the Laboratory for Social Choreography at the Kenan Institute for Ethics (director, Michael Kliën) is dedicated to fostering human relations that are unbound from our assumptions about mind, body, society and environment. Rooted in the premise that in order to meaningfully respond to the challenges of our times, we must move and think beyond the horizon of our understanding, the LSC is a hub for the research and development of experimental ways of learning and organizing. LSC focuses on the equitable transformation of social structures and the articulation of new modes of governance through aesthetics.
- To examine the role of corporeal awareness in the determination of ethics, relations and social structures.
- To emancipate embodied knowledge in response to excessive rational, narrow thought-processes in Western society.
- To stretch imagination through embodied experiences of interpersonal, -disciplinary and -institutional relations.
- To envision equitable, sustainable social structures upon an expanded awareness of ecological human and non-human relations.
- To design courses, actions and formats in response to academic and institutional stagnation.
- To glean new visions of communion and their modes of governance.
“Social Choreography permeates the tightly knit fabric of socialization, for other potential realities to be sensed and experienced, and for new relational fields amongst human and non-human to be forged. The practice of Social Choreography deals with the uncovering of underlying social relations and patterns – the choreography of the social – through embodied practices, and always, engages these dynamics for new social choreographies to emerge simultaneously” — Michael Kliën
PROGRAMS IN 2021/22
LSC generates experiential strategies to overcome entrenched patterns of perception, ideas, assumptions and positions. The laboratory conducts experiments in the emerging field of Social Choreography, organizes events, designs interdisciplinary courses and publishes its outcomes in various media (print, online, performance, exhibitions, etc.).
Parliament is a pioneering work of situational choreography that has been situated around the world. It offers participants a critically needed withdrawal from normal modes of social action. A diverse cohort of citizen-performers, working in silence, comes together to hold council amidst the elemental phenomena and fundamental concerns of collectively lived experience. Four Parliaments, each carefully recruited, will be organized by LSC at the Von Der Heyden Studio Theater of the Rubenstein Arts Center at Duke University. Each event will bring together diverse communities from Duke and Durham, providing an unusual and innovative site for 21st-century experimentalist cooperation. In addition, the LSC is preparing the national presentation of Parliament as well as publishing a book about Parliament in partnership with the CUNY Segal Center.
- Parliament, November 8, 2021, 6:00-9:00pm, Von Der Heyden Theater
- Parliament, December 3, 2021, 6:00-9:00pm, Von Der Heyden Theater
- Parliament, January 14, 2022, 6:00-9:00pm, Von Der Heyden Theater (cancelled due to COVID)
- Faculty Panel, “Altered Relations/Altered Politics: Parliament in the Time of COVID,” March 31, 2022, 6:00-9:00pm, The Ark
- Parliament, April 21, 2022, 6:00-9:00pm, Von Der Heyden Theater
A choreographic situation for up to 40 citizens conceived in direct relation to the new social situation of 2020 with full social distancing parameters in place. AMENDMENT, a social choreography that grew out of Kliens seminal work Parliament in response to the urgency of the situation, works on both the now and the next. It will acutely affect those who partake, and on the web of relations, the ecology to which they belong. At the same time, it develops the imagination for what comes after the catastrophe. How to rebuild? What do you rebuild? Going forward AMENDMENT wants to mend, to provide a viable lifeboat into the next.
- Amendment, April 18, 2022, 7:00-9:00pm, Von Der Heyden Theater
- Amendment, April 19, 2022, 7:00-9:00pm, Von Der Heyden Theater
The 11th Organ is an initiative to infuse deep imagination into our lifeworlds. Launched in response to the overbearing crises of the imagination to address urgent societal issues (and in collaboration with the Greek non-profit organization R.I.C.E.), the 11th Organ is an open, matrix of individuals who dare to profoundly reimagine their disciplines and society at large upon an aesthetic base, free of immediate constraints. As the matrix grows concrete actions will emerge across the world.
As part of the 11th Organ initiative, the 11th School at Duke asks: What would a passionately radical and urgently necessary institutional initiative look like? How far can our imagination stretch? Can we envision a school — an 11th School at Duke — that will systemically and virally change how we learn, and what we can become? Email us to join any of our in-person sessions that invite associative thinking and welcome a broad array of opinions, hopes, and visions, as well as concrete propositions.
- 11th Organ, October 29, 2021, 8:30-10:00am, Kenan Institute for Ethics, West Duke Building Portico
- 11th Organ, November 12, 2021, 8:30-10:00am, Kenan Institute for Ethics, West Duke Building Portico
- 11th Organ, December 10, 2021, 8:30-10:00am, Kenan Institute for Ethics, West Duke Building Portico
— Social Dreaming facilitation sessions in partnership with the Centre for Social Dreaming in London; free and open to Duke graduate students and faculty. Sessions will be conducted virtually on Zoom.
— Parliament/Amendment facilitation workshops for Duke and international graduate students. All sessions will be held in person at Duke East Campus.
— Seeding the first comprehensive Wikipedia page on Social Choreography drawing from various national and international contributors.
— All core-events will be professionally documented and published on the LSC’s website.
— Publications of a small book on the work Parliament, commissioned by the Segal Theater Center at CUNY
— Kenan Institute of Ethics awards a second-year Fellowship to one MFA student whose proposed social choreographic work aligns with, and extends, the mission of Kenan Institute of Ethics and LSC.