Founded in 2020, the Laboratory for Social Choreography focuses on transforming social structures through aesthetics. It explores the fundamental role of embodiment in ethics, relations, and governance. As an interdisciplinary hub, the Lab researches and develops experimental ways to learn, move, and organize in response to the pressing issues of our time—from climate change to immigration to systemic racism to unfettered capitalism. It choreographs situations that connect artists, citizens, and intellectuals in an extraordinary climate of sensibility, empathy, and vigorous imagination.
- To emancipate embodied knowledge to amend excessive rational, thought-processes in Western society.
- To expand the social imagination through embodied, relational experiences.
- To envision sustainable social structures upon an expanded awareness of human and non-human relations.
- To design courses, interventions, 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 2022/23
The 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. This year, one Parliament will be organized by the LSC at the Von Der Heyden Studio Theater of the Rubenstein Arts Center at Duke University, bringing together diverse communities from Duke and Durham, and 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 29, 2022, 6:00-8:30pm, Rubenstein Arts Center, von der Heyden Studio Theater
Amendment offers a container to reform our relationship to ‘the other’ in times of irreversible damage to our environment. The work provides cultural citizens (workers, teachers, immigrants, poets, etc.) rare, lived experiences in movement, and seeks to temporarily transcend the human/non-human divide into a relationship of reciprocal belonging. This year, one Amendment will be organized by the LSC at the Von Der Heyden Studio Theater of the Rubenstein Arts Center at Duke University, offering those who participate a chance to reimagine their place in the social ecology of the present and the future.
- Amendment, March 28, 2023, 6:00-8:30pm, Rubenstein Arts Center, von der Heyden Studio Theater
Meshroom is a performance environment on Duke’s campus for an intellectual community to form around an open dancefloor. The work is shaped by the action, hopes, queerness, and dreams of all those in the room: a weaving of wild minds and soft bodies. Open to all, participants are welcome to move, rest, witness, think, melt, and dance with live music and occasional performances.
- Meshroom, September 22, 2022, 7:00-9:00pm, The Ark Dance Studio
- Meshroom, November 17, 2022, 7:00-9:00pm, The Ark Dance Studio
- Meshroom, February 23, 2023, 7:00-9:00pm, The Ark Dance Studio
THE NEXT INSTITUTION
In 2022, the LSC is launching an interdisciplinary research project to design the blueprint of a new cultural institution. The proposed institution will engage citizens in exploring, creating and performing potential futures. Specifically conceived for the context of European social democracies and emanating from the arts, the institution will seek to envision comprehensive, cultural solutions to the complex challenges of our times. This envisioning will be achieved by connecting artists, citizens, and intellectuals in an extraordinary climate of heightened sensibility, empathy, play, and vigorous imagination. The new institution will expand the historically specific (and therefore limited) objectives of theatres, museums, opera houses, concert halls, and community centers to chart new pathways for social expression and organization.
— 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 the LSC.