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Towards Documentary Choreography Encounter #1

performance conversations

Towards Documentary Choreography Encounter #1

7 DEC — 9 DEC 2023

A three-day symposium focusing on the intersection between embodied and documentary practices, reflecting on new choreographic articulations of sociopolitical issues.


In recent decades, there has been an increasing interest in embedding elements from reality into performance. The testimonial plays of Lola Arias, the lecture performances of Rabih Mroué and Hito Steyerl, or the hybrid installations of Walid Raad propose complex dispositives and dramaturgies that question our modes of engagement with factual information. 

While the field of contemporary dance is known for its critical experimentations, the inclusion of factual information in its practice remains largely uncharted. Choreographers often use documentary elements such as texts, photographs, or videos as sources of inspiration in their artistic process, but few of these items remain visible in the final stage work. The intersection between embodied and documentary practices, however, opens up possibilities for new choreographic articulations of sociopolitical issues of various sorts and alternative ways of engaging with such matters. It results in what art philosopher Frédéric Pouillaude calls “factual representations” that consequently lead to a “poetics of factuality” (Pouillaude 2020).

For this symposium, which follows from his practice-based PhD research, choreographer Arkadi Zaides invites various practitioners and scholars to reflect collectively on the notion of “documentary choreography”. By looking at concrete case studies and by proposing various theoretical lenses, the participants will explore the strategies used by artists when combining embodied and documentary practices. Through different formats, they will consider the potentiality of such blending not only to challenge the boundaries of contemporary dance and documentary theater, but also to engage critically with social and political issues.

This event is made possible with the generous support of: Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts (ARIA); the Flemish Government; the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy of Ghent University; the Faculty of Arts (Department of Literature) of the University of Antwerp;  CoDa | Cultures of Dance – Research Network for Dance Studies (funded by the Research Foundation Flanders - FWO). It is organized as a part of Arkadi Zaides’ practice-based PhD in the Arts at the University of Antwerp, Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, Ghent University, and KASK/School of Arts (HoGent) and his active membership within the CORPoREAL research group at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp and the research center S:PAM (Studies in Performing Arts & Media) at Ghent University.

Programme Summary 

THU 07.12

17:00 — 17:30

17:30 — 17:45
Opening notes, Annouk Van Moorsel (Head of Dance and Educational Programmes in Dance, Drama, and Music at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp; co-chair of the research group CORPoREAL), Arkadi Zaides (choreographer, PhD researcher)

17:45 — 18:30
A Choreographic Move towards Visceral Realism, Frédéric Pouillaude (professor of Aesthetics at Aix-Marseille University)

18:30 — 19:15
Between Conflict and Community: The Politics of Witnessing in Documentary Dance,  Timmy De Laet (associate professor of Theatre and Dance Studies at the University of Antwerp and Coordinator of CoDa│Cultures of Dance – Research Network for Dance Studies)

19:15 — 20:00
Samah Hijawi (artist, writer, astrologer) in conversation with Frédéric Pouillaude and Timmy De Laet

FR 08.12

10:00 — 10:30

10:30 — 11:30
Human Rights in Art and Law: An Encounter and a Conversation, a conversation between Sandra Noeth (curator, body theorist, professor at the HZT-Inter-University Centre for Dance Berlin) and Martín Zícari (postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University, producer at Hiros and Batard Festival)

11:30 — 12:15
The Documentary Choreography as a Heterotopian Affirmation of Reality: Unlearning Citizenship and Visibility in Necropolis, Christel Stalpaert (professor at the Department of Art History, Musicology and Theatre Studies at Ghent University, co-director of the research center S:PAM)

12:15 — 13:00
Roundtable discussion between Christel Staelpart, Sandra Noeth, Martín Zícari, and Arkadi Zaides

13:00 — 14:15

14:15 — 15:00
Screening of Aphasia (Act Three) – “A Kid from the Neighbourhood” by Jelena Jureša (visual artist and filmmaker, post-doc researcher at KASK/School of Arts (HoGent))

15:00 — 16:00
Clubbin’ in Complicity, Thomas Bellinck (theater and exhibition maker, doctoral researcher at KASK/School of Arts (HoGent)) in conversation with Jelena Jureša

16:15 — 18:00
Screening of Barail, a movie by and in the presence of Denis Cointe (author-director) followed by an aftertalk

SA 09.12

10:00 — 10:30

10:30 — 12:00
Muscular Rumination, Carolina Mendonça (choreographer, dramaturg)

12:00 — 12:15

12:15 — 13:15

BAD FACTS, BAD FAITH, BAD FATE, Ligia Lewis (choreographer)

13:15 — 14:00
Moya Michael (choreographer & performer) in conversation with Carolina Mendonça and Ligia Lewis

14:00 — 15:00

15:00 — 18:00
Towards Documentary Choreography, inner outer circle discussion

18:00 — 18:30
Ending notes

Detailed programme and speakers' biographies in pdf >>

Arkadi Zaides works as a choreographer, curator, and researcher. He obtained a master’s degree at the AHK Academy of Theatre and Dance in Amsterdam. Since 2021, he is a doctoral researcher in the Arts at the University of Antwerp, Royal Conservatoire Antwerp, Ghent University, and KASK/School of Arts (HoGent). He is a member of the CORPoREAL research group at the Royal Conservatoire Antwerp and the research center S:PAM (Studies in Performing Arts & Media) at Ghent University. His performances and video installations have been presented at numerous dance and theater festivals, museums, and galleries across Europe, North and South America, and Asia. Zaides is a recipient of various awards, among them a prize for demonstrating engagement in human rights issues, awarded to him by the Emile Zola Chair for Interdisciplinary Human Rights Dialogue.


assistant production: Stef Assandri
image: Jelena Jureša, Aphasia (2019), film still