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.

We endeavour

  • 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


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, organize events, design interdisciplinary courses and publish its outcome in various media (print, online, performance, exhibitions, etc.).

The crises of 2020 have resulted in a necessary overhaul of the original program, adding virtual engagements and workshops to socially-distanced in-person events.
View the full 2020/21 PDF

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Due to COVID-19 the work Parliament is unlikely to be programed in 2020/21. However LSC will prepare the national presentation of this work as well as publish a book about Parliament in partnership with the CUNY Segal Centre.

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 Van Der Hyden Theater. Each event will bring together diverse communities from Duke and Durham, providing an unusual and innovative site for 21st-century experimentalist cooperation.

  • Depending on the developing situation. Potential dates and events TBA.



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.

  • Depending on the developing situation. Potential dates and events TBA.


Originally discovered by Psychoanalyst Gordon Lawerence at the Tavistock Institute in the 1980s, Social Dreaming has become a widely respected and applied practice. In each Matrix, participants share past nighttime dreams or share associations with those that have been shared. Through a structured process, often-unexpected connections between ideas to emerge. Social Dreaming is thus a way to explore subconscious concerns or ideas that may be more widely shared. Moreover, the practice of Social Dreaming Matrix enables a collective capacity for associative thinking, allowing for new thought to emerge.

LSC is particularly interested to develop Social Dreaming as a critical tool to address contemporary societal issues.


— Two series of ten publicly accessible Social Dreaming sessions in partnership with the Center for Social Dreaming (London) in summer and fall of 2020

— Two series of Social Dreaming sessions for underrepresented communities in 2021. All sessions will be conducted virtually on Zoom.



This pioneering conversational framework is designed to advance mutual understanding and new thinking by altering expectations of what information is to be shared and how. Personal Cosmologies yield intriguing results for guests and audiences alike. Open to the general public, each dialogue will be recorded, transcribed and published online


— LSC presents a series of four public dialogues with esteemed professors from various fields at Duke University during 2020/21. All sessions will be conducted virtually on Zoom.

— 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.

Our Team