The breathing archive score
— November 28, 2017

By Anouk Llaurens

0 – Silence. Close your eyes

1- Take a moment to pay attention to your breath and what touches your skin.

2- Keep your eyes shut and slowly crumple pages with your attention on how the paper is touching you.

3- Continue crumpling or un-crumpling the pages with your eyes open.

4- Take your time with the materiality of the pages before you start reading the printed words in silence.

5- Choose fragments of text to read out loud. Keep in mind that you edit/compose a unique and polyphonic document with the other players.

6- If you find a written movement score on a page, you are invited to play it.

7- There is a video camera on the table that records what enters its visual field and the sounds produces by the practice. You can let it be moved by what is happening on the table, orientate it and take it in your hand to film what interest you.

0 – Silence open your eyes

Notes: Remember silence

Pay attention to the resonance of your actions

Come back to any previous phase when necessary

I am involved since 2013, in an artistic research on poetic and polyphonic dance documentation. This is how I was invited to contribute to MIND THE DANCE [1].

MIND THE DANCE is an online publication developed by a group of dance artists and researchers from all corners of Europe. It is a collection of essays, manuals, scores, exercises, and maps; giving voice to a multitude of stances, ideas, and applications in and around documenting movement. It aims to motivate and empower the reader-teacher-artist to use creative documenting to enhance teaching and artistic practice. This in return may reframe and reshape the teaching and the practice of dance.

I started my research asking myself: What if dance artists apply their perceptual, motor, mental, and composition skills to document their own practice? I was interested to create and encourage a documentation that emanates from an embodied consciousness so that dancers empirical perspective have a voice in the creation of dance archives and dance history. What kind of documentation could emerge from such an approach?

We would start the day practicing Body Mind Centering® Basic Neurocellullar patterns [2] and the movement practices we wanted to document: For example “Follow your moving hand with your eyes” or “Play with your hand entering and exiting your visual field”[3]. We would acknowledge our documentation’s desire and choose from camera, video, drawing, matter or writing to actualize it. One morning, during a movement exploration, I thought of DNA as a kind of archive. This insight made me realize that living was an on-going documentation practice and our perceptual apparatus, an embodied and organic documentation technology. If the body was a living archive, the document was not only the book, the video, nor any external object but also the experience of the person that red it, saw it, touched it. A document could be an abstraction, a removal from experience and also the experience itself. To give more weight to the “living aspect” of the document I became more interested in the activity of archiving, than the archive itself. My research was not anymore about “knowledge production”, accumulating and capitalizing knowledge but about the process of learning and unlearning from an interaction with the world. Since then, the research is exploring performance and practices as forms of live documents. It observes what kind of experiences and self-discoveries these paradoxes might trigger. Even though live documents are written scores to be played, the research wants to displace the attention to the experience of the score, rather than the written score itself.

The breathing archive is one of these live documents. It invites players to edit collectively an ephemeral document that is contingent to the present conditions. The core action of the practice is to crumple and un-crumple printed A4pages [4]. This simple action done with care wishes to send us back to the basic life’s movement, like the movement of cells breathing and heart beating. Before crumpling and un crumpling the pages, players are invited to pay attention to their own breath as a continuous support for their action. Breathing as a ground induces an attentive and open presence that favors the emergence of a poetic experience made of sensations of paper, flesh, sounds, words, images, table, colors, smells, emotions and thoughts. “ Since the poetic happens when I pay attention to details, attentiois what makes the ordinary extra-ordinary; it is a door to poetic experiences” [5]Playing the breathing archive, one might live a suspended time that is no longer about past nor future, a time to live the ordinary as extraordinary, a time to celebrate being rather than having, with others.

Here is a video document played by three women and a one and a half years old baby: The breathing archive with Mila

For more information and content: http://mindthedance.com/

The breathing archive’ score applied for MTD:


[1]: Mind The Dance is a publication of REFLEX Europe, which is a 3 year EU-project  co-financed by Erasmus+ and 8 European partners. 

[2]:The development of these patterns in humans parallels the evolutionary development of movement through the animal kingdom. The Basic Neurocellular Patterns are the words of our movement. They are the building blocks for the phrases and sentences of our activities. They also establish a base for our perceptual relationships (including body image and spatial orientation) and for our learning and communication. https://www.bodymindcentering.com/course/basic-neurological-patterns-bnp/

[3]: Warm up by Lisa Nelson

[4]: For MIND THE DANCE the content of these pages is an interview of Florence Corin and Baptiste Corin about their editing work for Contredanse: Material For The Spine by Steve Paxton, Mouvements de vie by Anna Halprin and the project in progress with Lisa Nelson. Other contents can be put at play by the score: for example the archive of my year of my post-master program at a.pass (advance performing arts and scenography studies, Brussels) or soon an anthology about Lisa Nelson

[5]: In “ warming up the attention …” another of my contributions for MIND THE DANCE. http://mindthedance.com/#article/59/warming-up-the-attention

— Article written by ICK Amsterdam


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