Research Laboratories: embodied research methodology in perfoming arts

Melina Scialom About the author

ABSTRACT

Research Laboratories: embodied research methodology in performing arts

The article discusses the concept of laboratory in performing arts by means of intersections between academic research and laboratory theatre. By using the term laboratory to describe bodily and scenic investigations that are conducted in the studio, a combination of artistic and academic activities are discussed in order to foster a methodology for embodied research in performing arts. To that end, we present examples of laboratory practice in researches based on theory and on Practice as Research. Finally, we indicate laboratory practice as a method that produces tacit-somatic knowledge and present a methodological proposal for laboratory practice in academic research.

Keywords:
Laboratory; Choreology; Practice as Research; Research Methods; Embodied Research

RÉSUMÉ

Laboratoire de Recherche: méthodologie de recherche corporalisé en arts du spectacle

L’article discute le concept de laboratoire dans les arts du spectacle à partir de croisements entre la recherche académique et le théâtre laboratoire. En utilisant le terme laboratoire, pour décrire les investigations corporelles et scéniques qui ont lieu dans l’atelier, on discute la combinaison d’activités artistiques et académiques pour fomenter une méthodologie de recherche incarnée dans les arts scéniques. Pour cela, des exemples de laboratoires de recherches théoriques et pratiques sont articulés. En conclusion, on souligne le laboratoire comme une méthode qui génère une connaissance tacite-somatique et on présente une proposition méthodologique pour réaliser des pratiques de laboratoire dans la recherche académique.

Mots-clés:
Laboratoire; Chorégraphie; Pratique-comme-Recherche; Méthodes de recherche; Recherche Incorporée

RESUMO

Laboratório de Pesquisa: metodologia de pesquisa corporalizada em artes cênicas

O artigo discute o conceito de laboratório nas artes da cena a partir de cruzamentos entre a pesquisa acadêmica e o teatro laboratório. Ao usar o termo laboratório, para descrever investigações corporais e cênicas que acontecem no estúdio, é discutida a combinação de atividades artísticas e acadêmicas para fomentar uma metodologia de pesquisa corporalizada nas artes cênicas. Para tal, são articulados exemplos de laboratórios em pesquisas de cunho teórico e Práticas-como-Pesquisa. Conclui-se apontando o laboratório como um método que gera um conhecimento tácito-somático e apresentando uma proposta metodológica para realização de práticas laboratoriais em pesquisa acadêmica.

Palavras-chave:
Laboratório; Coreologia; Prática-como-Pesquisa; Métodos de Pesquisa; Pesquisa Corporalizada

Introduction

Laboratory practice is widely referenced and employed as a research method in the performing arts. With no precise definition as a method, it is above all an activity and a fertile ground for experimentation, where practices are used to research something unknown or test out ideas. Nonetheless, it remains a space for practice, where the researcher needs to be creative, daring and interested in that which will be examined and/or learned.

Traditionally, academic research implies discussions about method. Gilson Volpato (2013VOLPATO, Gilson. Ciência: da filosofia à publicação. 6. ed. São Paulo: Cultura Acadêmica Editora, 2013. ) explains that the production of scientific knowledge depends on a set of regulations for evaluation and normalization that are revised and updated following the paradigms introduced by researchers throughout the years (over centuries). When the arts were introduced into academia, they became equally committed to thinking means and ways of producing knowledge in their field. In this sense, the laboratory provided a platform for artistic research in academia. Spatz (2015SPATZ, Ben. What a Body Can Do: Technique as Knowledge, Practice as Research. New York; London: Routledge, 2015.) notes that, in order for laboratory research to be validated in a knowledge production context (both scientific and artistic) and as an epistemic practice, it is also necessary to point out the rules to systematise and evaluate that which is being tested. Then, thinking of laboratory practice as a research methodology in the arts implies a number of considerations about its use as a rigorous research method.

But what exactly is a laboratory and how to use it as a research practice in the field of performing arts? Neither trying to exhaust the definition nor covering its epistemological details, I suggest a look into the broad meaning of the term, moving through thoughts and theories that present the laboratory as an investigative practice and a research space-place in arts, more specifically, in the domain of performing arts, to then discuss its use as a methodology of embodied research and finally propose a systematisation for its use as a method. To that end, I seek to explore how laboratory practices emerged in the theatrical discourse and making of the twentieth century, establishing a mode of production of artistic knowledge. Next, I present examples from different projects and contexts in which laboratory practice was established as an embodied method of artistic research.

Due to this article’s methodological focus, instead of delving into the theoretical discussion on each project illustrated, I will detail how and why laboratories were implemented and how they supported different projects. Such examples may provide tools for designing and systematizing laboratories so they can be recognised as a research methodology in performing arts.

Laboratories

According to the Michaelis dictionary, a laboratory is:

1. Place or special room for work, experimentation and scientific investigations, equipped with specific apparatus for research and experiments; 2. FIG Situation or favourable environment to observe and experiment something;. 3 TEAT Practical and experimental exercises of creativity where actors or theatre students create characters and situations and develop emotions, preparing for the role or character to be played; workshop; 4. Place where these exercises are done (Laboratório, 2015, electronic documentLABORÁTORIO. In: Dicionário Brasileiro da Língua Portuguesa Michaelis. São Paulo: Editora Melhoramentos, 2015. Disponível em: <http://michaelis.uol.com.br/busca?r=0&f=0&t=0&palavra=laborat%C3%B3rio>. Acesso em: 07 out. 2019.
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).

The Oxford dictionary (Laboratory, 2019LABORATORY. In: US Dictionary Lexico. Oxford: Lexico; Oxford University Press, 2019. Disponível em: <https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/laboratory>. Acesso em: 20 set. 2019.
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) explains that laboratory originates from laboratorium, from the Latin term laborare, which means work or activity to be performed. Therefore, the term can be associated both to the situation and the place for conducting experiments as well as to the practice that takes place in this space. So, what exactly is this special workspace and the creative experiments that take place therein? This question is the starting point for discussions regarding the use of the term laboratory in academic research, artistic practice and arts pedagogy. In fact, the term laboratory has already been widely used in researches that seek an exclusive space to develop experiments. The use of laboratories as territories of experience and embodiment in performing arts research is significant, and the recurrence of the term in Brazilian publications is notorious. For example, in the last ten years the term appeared in seventy articles published in proceedings of national conferences of the Brazilian Association for Research in Performing Arts (ABRACE)1 1 Available at: https://bityli.com/sUOx1. Accessed on: Sep 30, 2019. . The word laboratory is also recurrent in research groups in Brazil, being used to describe a space for creation and experimentation, research and teaching in performing arts. Moreover, it has been widely used to label the epistemological field of research groups2 2 Some examples include the CONACR – Research Laboratory in Poetic Scenic Composition, Narrativity and Knowledge Construction (Federal University of Tocantins, UFT); the dramaturgy laboratory (University of Brasilia, UNB); the LAPETT – Study and Research Laboratory in Tanz Theatricalities (University of São Paulo, USP); the Critic Laboratory – LabCrítica (School of Dance of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ); and the recently launched Acting and Practical Knowledge Laboratory (University of Campinas, UNICAMP). . Even with the wide recurrence of the term, it is likely that its use as a method is more frequent than it seems. Despite its use as a method in several investigations, it is not always considered as such. In this context, little is discussed about the laboratory as a method itself and the rigor or systematization needed to have it as a research platform in academia.

The use of the term in performing arts is far from being unique. Ben Spatz (2020SPATZ, Ben. Making a Laboratory: Dynamic Configurations with Transversal Video. California: Punctum Books, 2020.) explains that “[...] the concept of the laboratory has a long history in theatre and performance [...] to which a laboratory ‘is a particular space of action’” (Spatz, 2020, p. 24). The Laboratory as a space of experimentation is described by Bya Braga (2013BRAGA, Bya. Experiências cênicas para um laboratório de pesquisa prática em atuação. Pós, Belo Horizonte, v. 3, n. 6, p. 75-85, nov. 2013., p. 76) as synonymous to “Research Theatres”, “Studio Theatres”, “Theatrical Laboratories”, and “Theatrical Workshops”. Based on this space dedicated to investigative action, theatre makers (directors, actors and actresses, dramaturges, etc.) have been drawing on the term to support their exploration into theatre making since the early 20th century.

Theatrical laboratories (or theatre laboratories) are powerful arenas where performative practice can be associated with an experimental investigative field. Spatz (2015SPATZ, Ben. What a Body Can Do: Technique as Knowledge, Practice as Research. New York; London: Routledge, 2015.) explains that the theatre laboratory emerges as an indicator of how theatre and dance have appropriated the recognised scientific term. Interestingly, these researches that involve laboratories are far from being associated with the objectivity and productivity of scientism. In these circumstances, the actors, dancers or researchers in performing arts can be seen as “[...] a kind of wizard” (Temekini in Boisson, 2013BOISSON, Bénédicte. O Paradoxo do Espectador do Teatro Laboratório. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, v. 3, n. 1, p. 116-131, abr. 2013., p. 117). That is because, as Risum (2004RISUM, Janne. What is a Theatre Laboratory? PERIPETI tidsskrift for dramaturgiske studier. Why a Theatre Laboratory?, Århus, v. 2, p. 15-20, 2004.) explains, laboratory theatres arose from the need of creating a space to conduct experimentations, challenge conventions and corporal capacities, where the researcher launches himself or herself into the unknown in search of what the body, the voice, the actions and the staging can do, in varied and sometimes unusual ways.

In the theatrical context, the laboratory has been seen as an “[...] independent, continuous and systematic experimental work with the means of expression of the actor, uninterrupted by the normal time limit and result” (Risum, 2004RISUM, Janne. What is a Theatre Laboratory? PERIPETI tidsskrift for dramaturgiske studier. Why a Theatre Laboratory?, Århus, v. 2, p. 15-20, 2004., p. 15). Schino (2009SCHINO, Mirella. Alchemists of the stage: theatre laboratories in Europe. Holstebro: Icarus, 2009. ) points out that the laboratory theatres go beyond the rehearsal for a performance, being a space to dive into the maze of the creative process, proposing the recognition of the complexity of the creative paths involved in the theatrical creation. The plunge into a creative process or research indicates the need for a space and time reserved for such, “[...] a special space and a given time, devoted to sustained hard work on and reflection regarding performing and theatrical tasks” (Chemi, 2018CHEMI, Tatiana. A Theatre Laboratory Approach to Pedagogy and Creativity: Odin Teatret and Group Learning. London; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. , p. 2), whether they are corporal, scenic and/or theatrical. In addition, Schino (2009) explains that, in theatre, practice laboratories were a relevant modernization in the artistic developments of the twentieth century, belonging to a history of advancements in the performing arts. As a particular way of making theatre, they were disseminated by artists and groups around the world and throughout history, remaining as an updated practice of research and experimentation.

The laboratory dimension of theatrical practices suggests a dynamic understanding that goes beyond research being conducted in the artists’ studios. It involves pure research experiments that are not directly “[...] aimed at creating performances” (Schino, 2009SCHINO, Mirella. Alchemists of the stage: theatre laboratories in Europe. Holstebro: Icarus, 2009. , p. 08). In this sense, the term becomes established as an opposition to performance practice3 3 Here, the use of the word performance is related to one of its meaning in English, referring to the moment of the presentation of a work onstage. . The author explains that:

Theatre laboratories are undoubtedly not a genre or a uniform category. They may include theatres that focus on political struggles or social issues; others intent on researching the actor’s art; still others seeking primarily inner values or different forms of artistic creation (Schino, 2009SCHINO, Mirella. Alchemists of the stage: theatre laboratories in Europe. Holstebro: Icarus, 2009. , p. 07).

The exploratory activity that is carried out in the artist’s studio, without a direct connection with a specific production, nevertheless related to a creative, maze-like and non-linear exploration (that mostly results in a performance), comes close to what artists have been calling laboratory practices, as suggested by Eugênio Barba (2019BARBA, Eugenio. O instinto de laboratório. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, v. 9, n. 3, p. 1-10, 2019.). Some examples of laboratory practices - of “pure research” (Barba, 2019, p. 8) - in the studio can be seen in the works of Brazilian scholars, artists and pedagogues Mônica Ribeiro (2012RIBEIRO, Mônica Medeiros. O Prazer Estético: um laboratório somaestético na sala de aula de dança. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença , Porto Alegre, v. 2, n. 1, p. 163-178, 2012. Disponível em: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2237-26602012000100163&lng=pt&tlng=pt>. Acesso em: 12 jan. 2021.
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), who researches multisensory devices for authorial dance creation; Ciane Fernandes (2013FERNANDES, Ciane. Em Busca da Escrita com Dança: Algumas Abordagens Metodológicas de Pesquisa com Prática Artística. Revista Dança, Porto Alegre, v. 2, n. 2, p. 18-36, 2013. Disponível em: <https://seer.ufrgs.br/cena/article/view/104331>. Acesso em: 29 dez. 2020.
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), who investigates ways of performing academic writing and performative interventions through embodied experimentation; Bya Braga (2013BRAGA, Bya. Experiências cênicas para um laboratório de pesquisa prática em atuação. Pós, Belo Horizonte, v. 3, n. 6, p. 75-85, nov. 2013.), who experiments with actor training and creation techniques in contemporary acting; and Márcia Strazzacappa (2014STRAZZACAPPA, Marcia. Imersões poéticas como processo de formação do artista-docente. ARJ - Art Research Journal / Revista de Pesquisa em Artes, Natal, v. 1, n. 2, p. 96-111, 2014. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.ufrn.br/artresearchjournal/article/view/5368>. Acesso em: 10 jan. 2020.
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), who uses the laboratory as a space of poetic immersions for the training of artists-educators.

Indeed, in performing arts practice and research, studio or laboratory activity has been synonymous with experimentation (Braga, 2013BRAGA, Bya. Experiências cênicas para um laboratório de pesquisa prática em atuação. Pós, Belo Horizonte, v. 3, n. 6, p. 75-85, nov. 2013.; Strazzacappa, 2014STRAZZACAPPA, Marcia. Imersões poéticas como processo de formação do artista-docente. ARJ - Art Research Journal / Revista de Pesquisa em Artes, Natal, v. 1, n. 2, p. 96-111, 2014. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.ufrn.br/artresearchjournal/article/view/5368>. Acesso em: 10 jan. 2020.
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), theatrical practice (Barba, 2019BARBA, Eugenio. O instinto de laboratório. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, v. 9, n. 3, p. 1-10, 2019.; Risum, 2004RISUM, Janne. What is a Theatre Laboratory? PERIPETI tidsskrift for dramaturgiske studier. Why a Theatre Laboratory?, Århus, v. 2, p. 15-20, 2004.), and work that involves research (Fernandes, 2014FERNANDES, Ciane. Pesquisa Somático-Performativa: Sintonia, Sensibilidade, Integração. Art Research Journal/Revista de Pesquisa em Arte, Natal, v. 1, n. 1, p. 76-95, jun. 2014. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.ufrn.br/artresearchjournal/article/download/5262/4239/>. Acesso em: 29 jun. 2018.
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; Kolaniewicz; Osinski, 2004). However, these spaces-time that are reserved for experimentation are - perhaps fundamentally - part of individual or group artistic expression.

In addition to being labelled as a specific artistic expression, “[...] theatre laboratory implies instrumentality [...]” (Chemi, 2018CHEMI, Tatiana. A Theatre Laboratory Approach to Pedagogy and Creativity: Odin Teatret and Group Learning. London; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. , p. 216). Moreover, Marília Donoso (2010DONOSO, Marília Gabriela Amorim. O treinamento como processo de investigação do ator-criador. 2010. 197 f. Tese (Doutorado em Artes) - Programa de Pós-Graduação em Artes, Universidade Estadual Paulista, São Paulo, 2010. Disponível em: <https://repositorio.unesp.br/bitstream/handle/11449/86851/donoso_mga_me_ia.pdf?sequence=1>. Acesso em: 20 abr. 2019.
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) reminds us that, in theatre’s 20th century history, performer training was directly associated with the emergence of embodied and theatrical laboratories as well as artist’s studio research. Spatz (2015SPATZ, Ben. What a Body Can Do: Technique as Knowledge, Practice as Research. New York; London: Routledge, 2015.) explains that training and experiments (in laboratory) with the body and what can be achieved with it (through different techniques and skills) can be seen as a type of embodied research. That is because, when the performing artist is in the studio performing his or her research, the body becomes a primary element and platform for research. The association between laboratories and embodied research will be our focus from now on.

Embodied Research

In the last decade, the body as a medium or substance of research has been the focus of several social (Thanem; Knights, 2019THANEM, Torkild; KNIGHTS, David. Embodied research methods. 1. ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2019.), somatic and embodied studies (Fernandes, 2015aFERNANDES, Ciane. Quando o Todo é mais que a Soma das Partes: somática como campo epistemológico contemporâneo. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença , Porto Alegre, v. 5, n. 1, p. 9-38, abr. 2015a. Disponível em: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2237-26602015000100009&lng=pt&tlng=pt>. Acesso em: 20 mar. 2019.
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; Sebiane Serrano, 2013SEBIANE SERRANO, Leonardo. Corporeidades Mestiças: pesquisa somático-performativa como uma opção descolonial. Conceição/Conception, Campinas, v. 2, n. 1, p. 21-32, 10 jul. 2013. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.sbu.unicamp.br/ojs/index.php/conce/article/view/8647709>. Acesso em: 20 dez. 2020.
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; Bacon; Midgelow, 2014BACON, Jane; MIDGELOW, Vida. Creative Articulations Process (CAP). Choreographic Practices, Bristol, v. 5, n. 1, p. 7-31, 2014.; Spatz, 2017SPATZ, Ben. Embodied Research: A Methodology. Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, Tampa, v. 13, n. 2, p. 1-31, 2017. Disponível em: <http://liminalities.net/13-2/embodied.pdf>. Acesso em: 29 jul. 2017.
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). Embodied research4 4 The use of the word corporalizado as a translation of the word embodiment was suggested by Queiroz (2012) and supported by Souza (2020). and the growing interest in the body have become increasingly popular in social sciences, humanities and the arts, qualifying what Torkild Thanem and David Knights (2019, p. 01) conceptualise as the “[...] embodied turn”. In the arts, advances in embodied and somatic methodologies have enabled developments in extraordinary and non-Cartesian directions, where the body begins to be recognised as a producer of knowledge (see, for example, Cunha; Pizarro; Vellozo, 2019CUNHA, Carla Sabrina; PIZARRO, Diego; VELLOZO, Marila Annibelli (org.). Práticas Somáticas em Dança: Body-Mind Centering em Criação, Pesquisa e Performance. Brasília: Editora IFB, 2019.; Fernandes, 2015a; Strazzacappa, 2012STRAZZACAPPA, Márcia. Educação Somática e Artes Cênicas: Princípios e Aplicações. Campinas: Papirus Editora, 2012.). Not only as an object of investigation, the body is recognised and validated as a medium in which thoughts and processes occur, becoming the place where and through which research is carried out. This means that everything that is part of a person’s corporeality (inherited and acquired characteristics) is considered as an element that fosters and determines research5 5 Ben Spatz (2015) supports that an embodied production of knowledge is directly related with the techniques embodied by a person. That is because the author holds that body techniques (such as Meyerhold’s Biomechanics, Martha Graham technique, Yoga, singing techniques, etc.) are epistemic practices and therefore promote the production of specialised knowledge. . Thanem and Knights (2019) explain that, when assuming the body as subject and object of research, it is imperative to question its practice in three levels: in the ontological level, inquiring about what is the body in this research; in the epistemological level, questioning what can be learned through it; and, finally, in the methodological level, questioning as to what kinds of methods, tools and techniques are activated by it (embodied knowledge) or used to investigate it.

Considering the third question about the tools for the body to become subject and also object of research (without excluding the ontological and epistemological perspectives that accompany them), we reinforce the particular interest in the tacit knowledge that is intrinsic to the body. The term tacit knowledge or knowing was introduced by Michael Polanyi in 1958 in his book Personal Knowledge (Polanyi, 2015POLANYI, Michael. Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. Chicago: Univerisity of Chicago Press, 2015.), in which he discusses the intelligence of bodily practices and techniques developed and acquired to perform certain activities, such as riding a bicycle, playing the piano, knitting, dancing hip-hop, etc. Advocating against the universality of objective knowledge paradigm, tacit knowledge is subjective and a qualitative experience apprehended and developed through the body and its agency. Tacit knowledge has been associated with embodied knowing by a range of researchers (see Adloff; Gerund; Kaldewey, 2015ADLOFF, Frank; GERUND, Katharina; KALDEWEY, David (org.). Revealing tacit knowledge: embodiment and explication. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2015. ) who, in addition to the term’s subjective content, also include intuitive and cultural cognition as well as pre-reflexive decision-making. All these factors determine the way in which bodies coexist and operate in space-time.

Based on the notion that the body has a certain amount of tacit knowledge, I inquire, together with Spatz (2015SPATZ, Ben. What a Body Can Do: Technique as Knowledge, Practice as Research. New York; London: Routledge, 2015., p. 1) “[...] what a body can do”, considering bodily techniques and decision-making processes (knowledge coming from and acquired through practice) as tacit and embodied wisdom, or epistemic. From this standpoint, actors and dancer’s training practices added to embodied research related to such training are seen as epistemic activities that carry and promote knowledge. The knowledge that comes from bodily practices is part of the practice turn, an academic-philosophical research movement that praises corporal activities and their epistemological power. What would it be, then, the space where corporal thinking or epistemology is employed for questionings that are typical of academic research? The laboratory could be an answer.

Ciane Fernandes (2014FERNANDES, Ciane. Pesquisa Somático-Performativa: Sintonia, Sensibilidade, Integração. Art Research Journal/Revista de Pesquisa em Arte, Natal, v. 1, n. 1, p. 76-95, jun. 2014. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.ufrn.br/artresearchjournal/article/download/5262/4239/>. Acesso em: 29 jun. 2018.
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; 2020FERNANDES, Ciane. A Arte do Movimento como Pesquisa Somático-Performativa: Pulsões e Territórios do Laboratório de Performance do PPGAC/UFBA. Cena, Porto Alegre, n. 32, p. 73-82, 2020.) has been working with laboratories as a method by combining academic research with Somatics, Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) and dance-theatre. In a pedagogical laboratory context (associated with a postgraduate course called Performance Laboratory), Fernandes created an approach called Somatic-Performative Research, whose twenty founding principles were inspired by Rudolf Laban’s Art of Movement. She guides the student-researchers to mobilise or dance their research based on propositions and questions that she asks during the sessions. Thus, the Somatic-Performative Research approach has become a methodology, not only for Fernandes, but also for several researchers who come into contact with her proposals.

Similarly to Fernandes, in my laboratory practices I have been employing Art of Movement as an essential feature and tacit knowledge. However, instead of LMA, I depart from the Choreological Studies and their five categories - Body, Space, Dynamics, Actions, and Relationship6 6 Choreological Studies are one of the branches of Rudolf Laban’s praxis developed by his pupil Valerie Preston-Dunlop and her collaborators in England in the late 20th century. See Preston-Dunlop and Sanchez-Colberg (2010). . These have an epistemic role or a corporeal wisdom that determines the embodied research method I have been investigating, as discussed below. In fact, the use of Laban praxis to work with embodied research proves a valuable alternative. Laban devised technical-analytical parameters to understand and work on what the body can do, developing the foundations of the Art of Movement, a praxis that merges theory and practice in a bodily thinking that occurs through movement (Laban, 1978LABAN, Rudolf Von. Domínio do Movimento. São Paulo: Summus, 1978. ).

One of Laban’s concepts, which is relevant to this article, is the thinking in terms of movement (Laban, 1978) that initially appeared in his career in the 1930s in his book A Life For Dance (Laban, 1975LABAN, Rudolf Von. A life for dance: reminiscences. London: Macdonald & Evans , 1975. ). The dance philosopher Maxine Sheets-Johnstone (1981) extensively elaborated on it, describing in detail the kind of thinking that occurs through the (dancer’s) body in motion. According to Laban and Sheets-Johnstone’s perspectives, thinking through or in terms of movement is performed by the body as it moves through space, combining cognitive and analytical activities with kinesthetic experience of performing certain dynamic and/or spatial patterns. Unlike Sheets-Johnstone, who stays in the philosophical sphere, Laban details this kind of thinking through proposals that aim at investigating the body in motion in space-time. According to Vera Maletic (1987MALETIC, Vera. Body - Space - Expression: The Development of Laban's Movement and Dance Concepts. New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1987.), it was through the observation of people and nature, in conjunction with bodily experiments, that Laban developed this and several other concepts that were exhaustively investigated in a laboratory environment by him and his pupils. His formulations provide a somatic corporeal knowledge that needs to be bodied or embodied in order to be apprehended/comprehended7 7 The relation between theory and practice in Laban praxis and how his Art of Movement involves and embodies philosophy can be seen with more details in Fernandes, Lacerda, Sastre e Scialom (2019). .

Inspired by Laban’s praxis and his proposal of thinking that transpires through movement, I have been working in laboratory with Choreological tacit knowledge8 8 According to Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Choreology is used to define a systematic study of dance – in a methodological sense (Preston-Dunlop, 1980). The term was initially introduced by Laban (Laban, 1966) to encompass the study of expressive movement in its dynamic and spatial possibilities, including its notation (Eukinetics, Choreutics e Kinetography, respectively). In the 1980s, Preston-Dunlop presented a revision of the term, having in mind the practice of contemporary dance. Founded on the term, she developed the Choreological Studies or Choreological Perspective (Preston-Dunlop; Sanchez-Colberg, 2010). as a means of developing a “moving analysis” (Fernandes, 2014FERNANDES, Ciane. Pesquisa Somático-Performativa: Sintonia, Sensibilidade, Integração. Art Research Journal/Revista de Pesquisa em Arte, Natal, v. 1, n. 1, p. 76-95, jun. 2014. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.ufrn.br/artresearchjournal/article/download/5262/4239/>. Acesso em: 29 jun. 2018.
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, p. 85) in academic settings. In order to discuss these practices and illustrate ways of using the laboratory practice as an embodied research methodology, I present examples of two research projects in which the studio laboratory was used as a method for study and a platform for developing tacit knowledge. Combining these experiences and the works of Fernandes (2014), Prette and Braga (2020PRETTE, Nailanita; BRAGA, Bya. Pesquisa performativa: o corpo como meio de investigação. DAPesquisa, Florianópolis, v. 15, p. 1-18, out 2020. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.udesc.br/index.php/dapesquisa/article/view/17962/12126>. Acesso em: 13 jan. 2021.
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), Bacon and Midgelow (2014BACON, Jane; MIDGELOW, Vida. Creative Articulations Process (CAP). Choreographic Practices, Bristol, v. 5, n. 1, p. 7-31, 2014.), and Spatz (2020SPATZ, Ben. Making a Laboratory: Dynamic Configurations with Transversal Video. California: Punctum Books, 2020.), I propose (at the end of the article) a framework to implement research laboratories in which expressive movement becomes a producer of tacit and embodied knowledge.

Individual Laboratory Experience: embodiment of questions

As part of a historiographical (theoretical) study, I held laboratories in the studio to explore research questions through the body and to embody the research through expressive movement (see Scialom, 2017SCIALOM, Melina. Laban Plural: Arte do Movimento, Pesquisa e Genealogia da Práxis de Rudolf Laban no Brasil. São Paulo: Summus , 2017. ). The use of questions to mobilise the researcher has been widely investigated by Ciane Fernandes (2013FERNANDES, Ciane. Em Busca da Escrita com Dança: Algumas Abordagens Metodológicas de Pesquisa com Prática Artística. Revista Dança, Porto Alegre, v. 2, n. 2, p. 18-36, 2013. Disponível em: <https://seer.ufrgs.br/cena/article/view/104331>. Acesso em: 29 dez. 2020.
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). Following the author’s practice of devising questions to set the research in motion, I selected some of the questions I had been devising in my studies and went to the studio to answer them with the body.

Eight sessions were held - each one with duration of two hours - weekly during two months in a dance studio at the Theatre School of the Federal University of Bahia, Brazil. Following the method of Fernandes (2013FERNANDES, Ciane. Em Busca da Escrita com Dança: Algumas Abordagens Metodológicas de Pesquisa com Prática Artística. Revista Dança, Porto Alegre, v. 2, n. 2, p. 18-36, 2013. Disponível em: <https://seer.ufrgs.br/cena/article/view/104331>. Acesso em: 29 dez. 2020.
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) for documenting laboratories, all sessions were filmed with a still camera (fixed on a tripod) to facilitate the analysis of the recordings. During these sessions, there was no musical accompaniment or atmosphere. I also used a notebook for taking notes, which were taken immediately after the explorations. According to Robin Nelson (2013NELSON, Robin. Practice as research in the arts: principles, protocols, pedagogies, resistances. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. ), this documentation shows and makes explicit the tacit knowledge produced in the practices (as research). Similarly, the choreological analysis9 9 Choreological analysis is a movement and scenic analysis involving movement principles and terminology from Valerie Preston-Dunlop’s (1980) Choreological Studies and Rudolf Laban’s (1978) praxis. of this material supported the discussion that follows, illustrating the epistemological contribution of the laboratories to the research, which surpasses a mere description of the movements. When recognising the body’s experience as an epistemological contribution to the research, the discussion held in this article expresses the somatic tacit knowledge produced in the experiments, going beyond a simple description of the exercises.

In each laboratory session, I investigated a unique question. For example, aiming to explore, through bodily motion (embodying), the possible paths of research, including the problems, the solutions, the enquiries, and what had already been established, I propounded the following question to the lab: What are the possible directions I can take in the research path? I developed this theme to investigate different kinds of focus and directions (including their opposites) for research. I also experimented with the possibilities of making changes and ways of doing them.

As I started to move with the investigation’s objectives in mind, I began to collect information (sensations) that my body in motion was giving me, recognising and mapping the available area and space around (as a metaphor of the space where my research is happening)10 10 It was during the analysis of the documentation (videos) that I noticed how the action of mapping the space could serve as a metaphor for the research actions. . As I moved, attempting to experiment the three-dimensionality of the body (in dimensions, diagonals and planes), I started to perform counter-movements that interrupted my free flow with sudden changes of focus and direction. I was surprised by the new routes my body began to follow. To avoid creating habits, I started to increase the speed of the changes of focus. This enabled deconstructing and instantaneously reconstructing the paths that had been traced - in an opposing flow to that which my mind and body were already used to11 11 In this sense, I refer to habit as habitus, a concept related to the embodied knowledge developed from the practice of specific body technique. Anthropologist Marcel Mauss (1973) coined habitus as a technique of the body in itself, which came from the bodily actions of a person – a type of embodied knowledge and acquired from training or culturally. . The result was a retraction and contraction, followed by even faster changes of focus. The more I tried to expand, the more I ended up condensing, as seen in Figure 1.

Figure 1
Images from the laboratory: movement in maximum expansion and beginning to condense. Source: Author’s personal archive.

The analysis of the video showed that the intention of multidirectional expansion led to a contrary movement of contraction and travelling backwards. When transposing such situation to the research actions, I realized that if I tried to include and add too many possibilities (directions), instead of helping me to progress (move forward), I would end up moving backwards and hindering my progress.

Returning to the investigation, to escape from the pattern described above, I decided to expand in a sudden motion. I tried not to allow myself to retract again, but after a few minutes in maximum body expansion (occupying the whole edge of the kinesphere12 12 Kinesphere is dynamic space that the body occupies when in motion. The size of the kinesphere responds to the movement of the person. According to Lenira Rengel (2003, p. 32), the kinesphere is “[...] a sphere inside which movement happens”. It is the space that surrounds each body. The centre of the kinesphere is the centre of the body and its periphery are the edges in space that each person’s limbs reaches. ) my body already exhausted began to condense in an indirect, strong and controlled motion. Then, I once again embodied the explosive quality (sudden expansion), performing, repeatedly, accelerated, centripetal and direct movements (in an attempt to avoid the contraction). In my journal, I called this quality limbs escaping the body (sudden movements from the centre to the periphery), as if the arms and legs were breaking free, yet being immediately controlled back to the medial line of the body. The improvisation ended with a walk, enabling me to explore the space of the studio once again. However, neither the space nor my body were the same as they were in the beginning of the improvisation. Both space and body presented an extra dimension: that of experience, which transforms emptiness into lived experience, bringing back memories of that which was experimented.

When analysing the video-recordings, I associated the variations in spatial directions (different focus) that occurred during the improvisations with the analysis of the data collected from the oral history interviews I had conducted in the genealogy of Rudolf Laban’s legacy in Brazil (Scialom, 2017SCIALOM, Melina. Laban Plural: Arte do Movimento, Pesquisa e Genealogia da Práxis de Rudolf Laban no Brasil. São Paulo: Summus , 2017. ). By collecting new data (conducting interviews), other possibilities for analysis emerged, providing both changes of focus and direction to my enquiry. By transferring somatic tacit knowledge from the laboratory to the actions of the research, the dimension of the experience of the individuals I had interviewed for the research became the core of my analysis.

In another laboratory session, I investigated the question: path or research objective? For such exploration, I held a session in the studio involving the internal-external connections and the free flow between inside (impulse and sensation) and outside (forms and shapes performed by the body13 13 Shapes are the forms that a body can take. These can be linear, curved or spiral, as well as a combination among them. For an in-depth discussion, see Hackney (2020). ), operating sequentially. The movement started in one part of the body and was conveyed like a wave until it reached the extremity and was projected outwards. With a variety of origins and exit points (projections), I started to undulate the body moving on the floor like a worm, see Figure 2. I slowly projected myself forward and outwards without anxiety with a sensation of continuous and infinite progression. I surrendered to the slow speed imposed by the movement of small impulses sequenced by the body. Following this movement pattern, instead of focusing on the point of arrival, I projected myself through space maintaining a constant speed, calmly experiencing the route (or progress). When analysing the video recording, I realised that the path was not pre-determined by a (mental) thought, but emerged from the event itself. Hence, it was not possible to foresee where I was going. I was simply going. In my journal I wrote:

Figure 2
Images of the laboratory: movement sequencing on the floor.

The writing that comes from within - removes - heart. The heart that directs itself inward. Outwards. The heart that drives. In. Out. Relaxation. The hand that caresses the ground. Withdraws. Pulses. Right foot that leaves the ground, returns slowly. Impulses. Heart, hand that caresses the floor (Annotations from the author’s laboratory journal, 2008).

When linking the movement patterns to the journal entries, I was able to see the difference between turning my attention to the path and, conversely, aiming for a conceptual objective without considering the process of achieving it. When the focus is on the journey rather than on a preconceived idea to be achieved (as with a predetermined research hypothesis), it is possible to notice the details of the process and what might emerge from it - potential trajectories. Attention to the route connected me to various affects, feeding me sensitive information about the chosen path. While transposing the understanding produced in the laboratory to the research, I began to direct my attention to each action (of research) being performed. Thus, my path was being modified without prior planning and led me to achieve distinctive results from the objectives initially proposed on the research project. This was a process of recognising, aligned with Fernandes (2013FERNANDES, Ciane. Em Busca da Escrita com Dança: Algumas Abordagens Metodológicas de Pesquisa com Prática Artística. Revista Dança, Porto Alegre, v. 2, n. 2, p. 18-36, 2013. Disponível em: <https://seer.ufrgs.br/cena/article/view/104331>. Acesso em: 29 dez. 2020.
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), that dance, the body and its vital efforts or the somatic tacit knowledge produced in the laboratory have the potential to co-move the research. For example, initially my aim was to map Brazilian artists who worked with Laban’s praxis. However, the practice of the research and its changing course transformed the interviews (initially carried out to compose an oral history) into a genealogy (in the sense elaborated by Foucault) of Laban’s praxis in Brazil. In this sense, the persons interviewed nourished a living and dynamic genealogical tree in constant mutation.

In this investigation, the laboratories became a way of embodying the research thinking and its actions, even though it did not include practice as part of its initial methodology (it was not a practice as research project). Going beyond what Thanem and Knights (2019THANEM, Torkild; KNIGHTS, David. Embodied research methods. 1. ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2019.) propose as an embodied analysis of interview data (which does not involve the researcher’s movement), the laboratories, along with my tacit (choreological) knowledge, showed a method of embodying historiographical research and of practicing somatic writing that comes from the body in motion (as suggested by Fernandes, 2013FERNANDES, Ciane. Em Busca da Escrita com Dança: Algumas Abordagens Metodológicas de Pesquisa com Prática Artística. Revista Dança, Porto Alegre, v. 2, n. 2, p. 18-36, 2013. Disponível em: <https://seer.ufrgs.br/cena/article/view/104331>. Acesso em: 29 dez. 2020.
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)14 14 See the dissertation Scialom (2009). .

Laboratories to Investigate Affective Thinking

The affective thinking research laboratories were conducted in a series of nine sessions held during a fellowship at Utrecht University in 2018. They aimed at activating a thinking that occurs through movement, exploring and cataloguing the affective responses that arise when embodying particular movement patterns. This tacit knowledge was then used to develop the dramaturgical direction of a dance performance.

The laboratories integrated the methodology of Practice as Research (Fernandes, 2014FERNANDES, Ciane. Pesquisa Somático-Performativa: Sintonia, Sensibilidade, Integração. Art Research Journal/Revista de Pesquisa em Arte, Natal, v. 1, n. 1, p. 76-95, jun. 2014. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.ufrn.br/artresearchjournal/article/download/5262/4239/>. Acesso em: 29 jun. 2018.
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; Nelson, 2013NELSON, Robin. Practice as research in the arts: principles, protocols, pedagogies, resistances. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. ), seeking to understand how movement generates affective intensities (how the performer/dancer/actor/actress is affected by specific dynamics) and how this movement is choreographically organised in an affective dramaturgy. It should be noted that the intention here is to show how the laboratories were used as a method to implement the research proposal and not to discuss the particularities of the individual projects (which can be seen in Scialom, 2020SCIALOM, Melina. Os Estudos Coreológicos como Práxis para Construção de uma Dramaturgia Afetiva. Revista Cena , Porto Alegre, v. 12, p. 9-17, 2020. Disponível em: <https://seer.ufrgs.br/cena/article/view/104341>. Acesso em: 17 jan. 2021.
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).

A total of nine sessions were held, each one lasting two hours, where I was alone in a studio with the filming camera and my laboratory journal. The warm-up consisted in free improvisation, inspired by the embodiment of Laban’s Effort factors polarities (see Laban, 1978LABAN, Rudolf Von. Domínio do Movimento. São Paulo: Summus, 1978. ) and Space Harmony scales. Indeed, Leslie Bishko (2005BISHKO, Leslie. Visualizing the A Scale: A Visual Supplement to Teaching Choreutics. In: INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL OF KINETOGRAPHY LABAN, 24., 2005, London. Proceedings... London: 2005. P. 1-17.) explains that the embodiment of Laban’s movement scales has the potential to facilitate experimentation with bodily sensations.

The preliminary phase lasted around half an hour. Sometimes it included a musical atmosphere (that depended on my willingness or need to have melodies or rhythmic accompaniments). Then, I would position the camera (to test the filming space) and concentrate on the research objective of the day (that was outlined prior to the session). The sessions’ recording and documentation ranged from twenty to sixty minutes.

To begin the sessions, I first situated myself, recognising my present corporeality. Following the first three phases of the Creative Articulation Process designed by Jane Bacon and Vida Midgelow (2014BACON, Jane; MIDGELOW, Vida. Creative Articulations Process (CAP). Choreographic Practices, Bristol, v. 5, n. 1, p. 7-31, 2014.) for carrying out dance laboratories - opening, situating and immersing -, I selected a movement theme and started to perform it freely (improvisation with a specific focus). For example, in the first laboratory I explored small and large kinespheres created by the body in motion, paying attention to the affective intensities generated by each body organization. When watching the video recording, I noticed that when my body in motion shapes a small kinesphere (movement of the limbs close to the medial line of the body), it gives the impression of intimacy, selfishness, and introspection, as seen in Figure 3. On the contrary, when the limbs try to reach far from the medial line of the body, creating a large kinesphere, the impression is of extroversion, establishing a kinesthetic connection between the dancer and the one watching the movement15 15 The kinesthetic connection has been the focus of diverse researches that associate dance and neuroscience (Lessa; Jesus; Corrêa, 2016). It is related to the physical (and consequently emotional) sensation of watching a body in motion and participating in that which one is watching. I am not interested in unpacking this operation’s physiological processes, but in pointing out to the fact that the audience is bodily and affectively sensitised by what they watch, thus establishing a kinesthetic connection between audience and art work. . In the laboratory journal, I wrote about the sensations of such moving:

Figure 3
Images from the laboratory: investigating small and large kinespheres.

I began to feel that affects were emerging from those movements. I can’t name them and I can’t understand what they were. I can’t rationalise it. It is something that came from inside, nameless and was awakened by the movement. The externalisation made me feel somehow complete, because internal and external were connected. I feel what I move. I move-feel (Notes from the author’s laboratory journal, 2018).

I learned that by changing the type of movement I was making, the intensities I felt also changed. This means that the affects were consciously experienced through the selection of the types of movements performed. This means that it was possible to manipulate them through the choice of certain movement patterns. The possibility of choreographing using these sensations and not pre-conceived forms or ideas about dance or a choreographic theme became the goal of the research, and emerged after the laboratory practices had begun. This experience shows how the tacit knowledge that emerged from the affective correspondence of certain movement qualities and that were activated and advanced in the laboratory interfered with the course of the research.

The disclosure of the paths and objectives of a research through its own practice is a procedure that belongs to the Practice as Research paradigm. According to Fernandes (2015aFERNANDES, Ciane. Quando o Todo é mais que a Soma das Partes: somática como campo epistemológico contemporâneo. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença , Porto Alegre, v. 5, n. 1, p. 9-38, abr. 2015a. Disponível em: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2237-26602015000100009&lng=pt&tlng=pt>. Acesso em: 20 mar. 2019.
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, p. 26), in this paradigm “[...] practice is, in itself, the research method, its main axis, and means of organization.” This means that, in Practice as Research, tacit knowledge becomes essential to outline the development of research, beyond its problem or hypothesis.

In the following laboratory, I added another layer to the investigation. The aim was to look at movement affinities or their “choreological order” (Preston-Dunlop; Sanchez-Colberg, 2010, p. 64)16 16 Movement affinity and choreological order are concepts Rudolf Laban (1966, p. 4) developed to explain “[...] the occult laws [...]” and the structures of movement that, when embodied, make the movement “[...] penetrable, meaningful and comprehensible [...]” (Preston-Dunlop; Sanchez-Colberg, 2010, p. 64). In other words, the dynamic and spatial affinities each body possesses facilitate the kinesthetic and symbolic communication amongst people. related to motion that occupies larger and smaller kinespheres. For example, I noticed that when moving with the limbs closer to the centre of the body (medial line) materialising a small kinesphere, movement naturally accelerates (increase speed). I also inferred that when I reach out with the limbs in their maximum amplitude tracing peripheral paths and increasing the size of the kinesphere, the speed of the movement decreases17 17 The trajectories that the movement of a limb draws in space are called spatial pathways. According to Laban, they can occur on the periphery of the kinesphere (peripheral pathways), traversing the centre of the kinesphere (central pathways) or traversing the kinespheric space, not passing through the centre nor the periphery (transversal pathways) (Laban, 1966). . Laban (1978LABAN, Rudolf Von. Domínio do Movimento. São Paulo: Summus, 1978. ) had already described this choreological order: when retracting a limb towards the centre of the body, the movement becomes faster; while the opposite - movement of spreading the limbs in space - tends to be slower. By inverting the choreological order (in this case, the speed and the path), I learned that the energy spent to perform the task was higher, generating heat and fatigue sensations - especially in the accelerated motion within the large kinesphere. At the same time, I felt anxious because I needed to contain the flow so I would not lose my balance (as I could not go back to the centre to balance myself and perform an effort recovery).

These laboratories were followed by others that continued to investigate the affective qualities present in movement patterns (according to Laban’s praxis), such as: spatial intention with the use of direct or flexible space (space motion factor); accelerated or decelerated speeds; light or firm weights and the combination between them. This procedure produced a tacit and somatic knowledge that, according to Fernandes (2015aFERNANDES, Ciane. Quando o Todo é mais que a Soma das Partes: somática como campo epistemológico contemporâneo. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença , Porto Alegre, v. 5, n. 1, p. 9-38, abr. 2015a. Disponível em: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2237-26602015000100009&lng=pt&tlng=pt>. Acesso em: 20 mar. 2019.
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, p. 30), is in the researcher’s activity of “[...] perceiving (their self) and co-creating mutable and performative connections”.

Based on these laboratories and the tacit understanding and knowledge created from the relation between affect and movement qualities, I worked with the dramaturgy of the piece Parada Obrigatória (2019). In the creative process of the Vanessa França Dance Company, I guided choreographer Vanessa França and the nine dancers to create scenes based on movement qualities and patterns that produced particular affective intensities, resulting in flowing qualities that showed the choreographer’s intention of producing what she called compulsory stops. In this process, I worked with the dramaturgy of the piece from the outside of the scene, facilitating the development of choreographic situations where the dancers experienced different movement patterns and their intensities. This enabled them to experience a range of options so they could chose the most appropriate ones for the choreography.

In both the (apparently) theoretical research and in the Practice as Research project, the laboratories revealed an embodied practice that both employed and enhanced the researcher’s tacit knowledge. The investigations that were conducted in the studio became a platform for leveraging, in academic research, that which we know through the body. This provides a particular epistemology to work from. I recognise that the research that is pursued through the body could also be characterised as a somatic procedure. That is because, according to Fernandes (2015aFERNANDES, Ciane. Quando o Todo é mais que a Soma das Partes: somática como campo epistemológico contemporâneo. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença , Porto Alegre, v. 5, n. 1, p. 9-38, abr. 2015a. Disponível em: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2237-26602015000100009&lng=pt&tlng=pt>. Acesso em: 20 mar. 2019.
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, p. 25):

[...] somatic research is grounded in extensive somatic practice, building a flexible conceptual and consistent apparatus, structured as a dynamic whole following its own methodological coherences that are related and/or applied to other fields. This research ceases to be an object or a merely quantitative scheme, so it can be, in itself, soma.

Considering the thinking of Fernandes (2015aFERNANDES, Ciane. Quando o Todo é mais que a Soma das Partes: somática como campo epistemológico contemporâneo. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença , Porto Alegre, v. 5, n. 1, p. 9-38, abr. 2015a. Disponível em: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2237-26602015000100009&lng=pt&tlng=pt>. Acesso em: 20 mar. 2019.
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) and Adloff, Gerund and Kaldewey (2015ADLOFF, Frank; GERUND, Katharina; KALDEWEY, David (org.). Revealing tacit knowledge: embodiment and explication. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2015. ), I understand that the knowledge used and also produced in laboratory settings would be a kind of tacit-somatic knowledge, based on body techniques that not only inform the research but also direct or even determine it.

Basic Structure to carry out a Research Laboratory

Inspired by the researchers mentioned throughout this article and according to my own experiences, I present here suggestions of basic practices to motivate the reader in the systematization and use of the laboratory as a research method in performing arts.

Theme and Preparation

The exploration to be carried out will provide benefit if the topic of the laboratory is planned in advance. The reason the researcher is going to the laboratory should be known, even if doubt and the unknown are among the topics being investigated. Schedule a room or studio for a few hours for each session. Plan the materials you will need for the practice and its documentation - such as a camera with a charged battery, tripod, computer, sound system, cables, props or any other equipment. Nelson (2013NELSON, Robin. Practice as research in the arts: principles, protocols, pedagogies, resistances. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. ) points out that, in Practice as Research projects, documentation is used in the research discussion as evidence and/or example of processes and, therefore, must be carefully planned, executed, collected, and stored.

Warm-ups that prepare for the session must be considered, aiming to shift the researcher from the inertia that is frequent in intellectual work, where much time is spent sitting, reading, and writing. The choice of techniques to be used depends on what the researcher wants to investigate and his or her affinity with their practice. Warming up may even be the investigation itself.

Planning and Arrangements

The arrangements were made both before the laboratory and also after arriving at the studio. If the researcher is using a camera for documentation, it should be positioned where lighting and the shooting area have minimal visual interference. The researcher decides whether the warm-up should be documented or not. Equally important is the planning and documentation of the laboratory session; as Spatz (2020SPATZ, Ben. Making a Laboratory: Dynamic Configurations with Transversal Video. California: Punctum Books, 2020.) explains, these are elements that characterise the laboratory as such.

Investigation Stage

The next stage is the investigation, which is conducted when the researcher focuses on the theme taken to the studio and moves through it. The duration of this stage depends on each researcher and must be taken into consideration as data for analysis. Props and music may be used, but they should also be considered in the analysis. Some questions are relevant, such as: is there a time limit? How does the laboratory end and what determines its end?

In some laboratories, for example, as I begin to move I focus on the selected questions or themes to be embodied. They are silently repeated in the mind as thought, or they may also be verbalized out loud, as often as needed. At times I speak aloud so the camera can record what I am thinking or perceiving in that moment. This active speech resembles a dialectic action with myself that sometimes leads to new considerations about the investigation, made in real time. At other times, I verbalise my impressions simply to record them on video so they can be used during the analysis later on.

The reason for the finalising an investigation should always be identified and considered. For example, there were times when a laboratory ended because I realised that I was no longer focused on the purpose of the exploration. In other occasions I finished the investigation because I felt physically sick, which was also important data showing that my motion was moving me out of my usual pattern (an important fact for the research). After turning off the camera, I take notes in the laboratory journal to record the phenomenological impressions of the experience. It is important to take notes immediately after the practices to register the impressions that are still fresh as experience, as Prette and Braga (2020PRETTE, Nailanita; BRAGA, Bya. Pesquisa performativa: o corpo como meio de investigação. DAPesquisa, Florianópolis, v. 15, p. 1-18, out 2020. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.udesc.br/index.php/dapesquisa/article/view/17962/12126>. Acesso em: 13 jan. 2021.
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) suggest.

Documentation Analysis

The final stage involves the analysis of the materials produced in the laboratory and the documentation, such as video recordings and journal entries. According to Prette and Braga (2020PRETTE, Nailanita; BRAGA, Bya. Pesquisa performativa: o corpo como meio de investigação. DAPesquisa, Florianópolis, v. 15, p. 1-18, out 2020. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.udesc.br/index.php/dapesquisa/article/view/17962/12126>. Acesso em: 13 jan. 2021.
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), the documentation shows details of the process and the liveliness of the research. The analysis aims at discussing the process using tools that translate the experience into a language to be shared. The method for such analysis must be carefully chosen. Particularly, I use Laban Movement Analysis (see Fernandes, 2006FERNANDES, Ciane. O corpo em movimento o sistema Laban/Bartenieff na formação e pesquisa em artes cênicas. 2. ed. São Paulo: Annablume, 2006. ). However, any other method can be tested. Finally, the researcher can return to his or her writing with a phenomenological point of view of having experimented and reflected about his or her experience.

Conclusion

After introducing the concept of laboratory, presenting researchers who have been working with the method as a space for artistic experimentation and research methodology, as well as discussing some examples of my own practices, it is possible to recognise the laboratory as an investigative and experimental method that produces tacit knowledge and contributes to the development of research in performing arts. As addressed, they can be a way to activate and practice research in and through motion. In addition, they facilitate the investigation of the potential of the body in artistic creation, as Laban, Grotowski and Stanislavski, among others, envisioned in the beginning of the 20th century and Fernandes (2014FERNANDES, Ciane. Pesquisa Somático-Performativa: Sintonia, Sensibilidade, Integração. Art Research Journal/Revista de Pesquisa em Arte, Natal, v. 1, n. 1, p. 76-95, jun. 2014. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.ufrn.br/artresearchjournal/article/download/5262/4239/>. Acesso em: 29 jun. 2018.
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), Braga (2013BRAGA, Bya. Experiências cênicas para um laboratório de pesquisa prática em atuação. Pós, Belo Horizonte, v. 3, n. 6, p. 75-85, nov. 2013.), Ribeiro (2012RIBEIRO, Mônica Medeiros. O Prazer Estético: um laboratório somaestético na sala de aula de dança. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença , Porto Alegre, v. 2, n. 1, p. 163-178, 2012. Disponível em: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2237-26602012000100163&lng=pt&tlng=pt>. Acesso em: 12 jan. 2021.
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) discuss in the 21st century. Although the laboratory is grounded in concepts and practices developed in the last century, the systematization of laboratory as a research method becomes significant in the third decade of the 21st century. Even when considering that the arts research methodology “is done by doing it” (Strazzacappa, 2014STRAZZACAPPA, Marcia. Imersões poéticas como processo de formação do artista-docente. ARJ - Art Research Journal / Revista de Pesquisa em Artes, Natal, v. 1, n. 2, p. 96-111, 2014. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.ufrn.br/artresearchjournal/article/view/5368>. Acesso em: 10 jan. 2020.
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, p. 101), I agree with Spatz (2020SPATZ, Ben. Making a Laboratory: Dynamic Configurations with Transversal Video. California: Punctum Books, 2020.) that the laboratory is a space of systematic experimentation and that it relies on a rigorous method to support embodied research in the academic and artistic spheres. As Prette and Braga (2020PRETTE, Nailanita; BRAGA, Bya. Pesquisa performativa: o corpo como meio de investigação. DAPesquisa, Florianópolis, v. 15, p. 1-18, out 2020. Disponível em: <https://periodicos.udesc.br/index.php/dapesquisa/article/view/17962/12126>. Acesso em: 13 jan. 2021.
https://periodicos.udesc.br/index.php/da...
, p. 16) suggest, the rigor allows “[...] an effective legitimation and recognition of the arts as a field of knowledge.”

As discussed throughout the article, both practice-based and performative research as well as theoretical investigations (without artistic results or performance - as in the first example mentioned) can benefit from embodied research laboratories and the tacit-somatic epistemology that they provide. The laboratory is a means of investigating and experimenting through corporeality, enabling the research to come to life and breathe in the body of the sensitive and attuned researcher. They enable the researcher to explore the maze of the process (creative or research), to write and speak from/through the body that moves (instead of speaking about the body). Then, when we allow the research to be thought of and expressed from/through the body, the “[...] movement becomes the research method, how we learn and relate, how we discover and invent” (Fernandes, 2015bFERNANDES, Ciane (org.). The Moving Researcher: Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analysis in Performing Arts and Creative Arts Therapy. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2015b. , p. 65). Laboratory practice in research in performing arts becomes a method that associates creativity with rigor, in an experimental and sensitive territory, producing knowledge from the body and not about it. In the embodied research laboratories, the body becomes the platform where knowledge is produced, sustaining a means of thinking and generating expertise, both within and outside academia.

Notes

  • This original text, translated by the author and proofread by Roberto Candido Francisco (Tikinet Edições Ltda), is also published in Portuguese in this issue of the journal.
  • 1
    Available at: https://bityli.com/sUOx1. Accessed on: Sep 30, 2019.
  • 2
    Some examples include the CONACR – Research Laboratory in Poetic Scenic Composition, Narrativity and Knowledge Construction (Federal University of Tocantins, UFT); the dramaturgy laboratory (University of Brasilia, UNB); the LAPETT – Study and Research Laboratory in Tanz Theatricalities (University of São Paulo, USP); the Critic Laboratory – LabCrítica (School of Dance of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ); and the recently launched Acting and Practical Knowledge Laboratory (University of Campinas, UNICAMP).
  • 3
    Here, the use of the word performance is related to one of its meaning in English, referring to the moment of the presentation of a work onstage.
  • 4
    The use of the word corporalizado as a translation of the word embodiment was suggested by Queiroz (2012)QUEIROZ, Lela. Corporalização: BmC em Dança. Urdimento, Florianópolis, v. 19, p. 41-51, 2012. Disponível em: <https://revistas.udesc.br/index.php/urdimento/article/view/3189/2322>. Acesso em: 22 jul. 2019.
    https://revistas.udesc.br/index.php/urdi...
    and supported by Souza (2020)SOUZA, Elisa Teixeira de. Embodiment (Corporalização), Soma e Dança: alguns nexos possíveis. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença , Porto Alegre, v. 10, n. 4, p. 1-30, 2020. Disponível em: <http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2237-26602020000400301&tlng=pt>. Acesso em: 17 out. 2020.
    http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=s...
    .
  • 5
    Ben Spatz (2015) supports that an embodied production of knowledge is directly related with the techniques embodied by a person. That is because the author holds that body techniques (such as Meyerhold’s Biomechanics, Martha Graham technique, Yoga, singing techniques, etc.) are epistemic practices and therefore promote the production of specialised knowledge.
  • 6
    Choreological Studies are one of the branches of Rudolf Laban’s praxis developed by his pupil Valerie Preston-Dunlop and her collaborators in England in the late 20th century. See Preston-Dunlop and Sanchez-Colberg (2010).
  • 7
    The relation between theory and practice in Laban praxis and how his Art of Movement involves and embodies philosophy can be seen with more details in Fernandes, Lacerda, Sastre e Scialom (2019).
  • 8
    According to Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Choreology is used to define a systematic study of dance – in a methodological sense (Preston-Dunlop, 1980PRESTON-DUNLOP, Valerie. Dance is a language isn’t it?. London: The Laban Centre for Movement and Danc; University of London; Goldsmith College, 1980. ). The term was initially introduced by Laban (Laban, 1966) to encompass the study of expressive movement in its dynamic and spatial possibilities, including its notation (Eukinetics, Choreutics e Kinetography, respectively). In the 1980s, Preston-Dunlop presented a revision of the term, having in mind the practice of contemporary dance. Founded on the term, she developed the Choreological Studies or Choreological Perspective (Preston-Dunlop; Sanchez-Colberg, 2010PRESTON-DUNLOP, Valerie; SANCHEZ-COLBERG, Ana. Dance and the performative: a choreological perspective: Laban and beyond. Alton; Hampshire: Dance Books, 2010. ).
  • 9
    Choreological analysis is a movement and scenic analysis involving movement principles and terminology from Valerie Preston-Dunlop’s (1980) Choreological Studies and Rudolf Laban’s (1978) praxis.
  • 10
    It was during the analysis of the documentation (videos) that I noticed how the action of mapping the space could serve as a metaphor for the research actions.
  • 11
    In this sense, I refer to habit as habitus, a concept related to the embodied knowledge developed from the practice of specific body technique. Anthropologist Marcel Mauss (1973)MAUSS, Marcel. Techniques of the body. Economy and Society, London, v. 2, n. 1, p. 70-88, 1973. coined habitus as a technique of the body in itself, which came from the bodily actions of a person – a type of embodied knowledge and acquired from training or culturally.
  • 12
    Kinesphere is dynamic space that the body occupies when in motion. The size of the kinesphere responds to the movement of the person. According to Lenira Rengel (2003, p. 32)RENGEL, Lenira. Dicionário Laban. São Paulo: Annablume , 2003. , the kinesphere is “[...] a sphere inside which movement happens”. It is the space that surrounds each body. The centre of the kinesphere is the centre of the body and its periphery are the edges in space that each person’s limbs reaches.
  • 13
    Shapes are the forms that a body can take. These can be linear, curved or spiral, as well as a combination among them. For an in-depth discussion, see Hackney (2020)HACKNEY, Peggy. Forma. Cena , Porto Alegre, n. 32, p. 21-37, 2020. Disponível em: <https://seer.ufrgs.br/cena/article/view/109742>. Acesso em: 29 dez. 2020.
    https://seer.ufrgs.br/cena/article/view/...
    .
  • 14
    See the dissertation Scialom (2009)SCIALOM, Melina. Laban Plural: Um Estudo Genealógico do Legado de Rudolf Laban no Brasil. 2009. Dissertação (Mestrado em Artes Cênicas) - Programa de Pós-Graduação em Artes Cênicas, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Salvador, 2009..
  • 15
    The kinesthetic connection has been the focus of diverse researches that associate dance and neuroscience (Lessa; Jesus; Corrêa, 2016). It is related to the physical (and consequently emotional) sensation of watching a body in motion and participating in that which one is watching. I am not interested in unpacking this operation’s physiological processes, but in pointing out to the fact that the audience is bodily and affectively sensitised by what they watch, thus establishing a kinesthetic connection between audience and art work.
  • 16
    Movement affinity and choreological order are concepts Rudolf Laban (1966, p. 4) developed to explain “[...] the occult laws [...]” and the structures of movement that, when embodied, make the movement “[...] penetrable, meaningful and comprehensible [...]” (Preston-Dunlop; Sanchez-Colberg, 2010, p. 64). In other words, the dynamic and spatial affinities each body possesses facilitate the kinesthetic and symbolic communication amongst people.
  • 17
    The trajectories that the movement of a limb draws in space are called spatial pathways. According to Laban, they can occur on the periphery of the kinesphere (peripheral pathways), traversing the centre of the kinesphere (central pathways) or traversing the kinespheric space, not passing through the centre nor the periphery (transversal pathways) (Laban, 1966).

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    24 Sept 2021
  • Date of issue
    2021

History

  • Received
    31 Jan 2021
  • Accepted
    30 Apr 2021
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