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Choreographic Processes as Poetic, Political and Pedagogical Action in Contemporary Times (2016-2020)

With this project, Tone Pernille Østern started to focus on choreographic processes as a research topic in itself, as she was leading various creative processes. The research project flew in and out of the artistic research taking place in Inclusive Dance Company and more academic research in the NTNU university context.


Antje Hildebrandt's provocation "The End of Choreography" was a direct inspiration for the research project.

Acknowledning that choreography as we know it is dead, and that choroegraphic processes today are performative

practices engaged in the world (not only in the stage as a place for performance), Tone asked herself the following

research questions relating to artistic practice:

– What is choreography in contemporary times?
– What does choreography contribute in contemporary times?
– What are contemporary times?
– If choreography is understood as action in contemporary times, what does it then mean to choreograph?
–- What does it mean to choreograph in a way that takes in impulses and values from contemporary times, in process as well as in product?


One academic outcome of this project is the book chapter Choreography as Poetic, Political and Pedagogical Action in Contemporary Times (Østern, 2020) in the peer-reviewed edited book Arts an Agent for Social Change (Mreiwed, Carter & Mitchell, 2020) at Brill. In this chapter, Tone (Østern, 2020, p. 144) concludes:

As a result of (and at the same time starting points for) my diffractions through the choreographic processes described here, I have come to think the following about choreographic processes:

–  Choreography in my experience is poetic because is about creating form. Poesis in Greek was first a verb, meaning to create. Choreography as poesis is about the forms created, the choices made, and the communicative poten- tial emerging from the work. Choreography as poesis is art.

–  Choreography, in my experience, always opens up a pedagogical space. There is a team, and very often a choreographer as leader, or some other kind of choreographic working structure. As soon as a team is trying to create something together, pedagogical aspects like care, ethics, change, upbringing, influence, and power come into play. Choreographers have great influence on others in choreographic processes. Power is active all the time.

–  Choreography, in my experience, is political because art communicated in a public sphere is always, on some level, a political statement, even though the theme of investigation is not necessarily a political one. Art is public action, and art, whether intended or not, expresses something about the artists’ values and views. Values are being played out in process and product.


Another academic outcome of this project is the book chapter Kunstfag og koreografi distribuert som meningsskapende mulighet i en flerfaglig praksis (Arts subjects and choreography distributed as meaning-making possibilities in a cross-curricular practice) (Østern, 2019) in the peer-reviewed edited book Dybde//læring - en flerfaglig, relasjonell og skapende tilnærming (Depth in learning - a cross-curricular, relational and creative approach) (Østern, Dahl, Strømme, Aagaard Petersen, Østern & Selander, 2019).

The chapter Koreografididaktiske sammenfiltringer / Choreographic-Pedagogical Entanglements (Østern, 2018) is published in the magazine Koreografi/Choreography (2018) edited by Solveig Styve Holte, Ann-Christin Kongsness and Venke Marie Sortland. In this text she propels towards choreography as expanded practice, articulating impulses that seem to have put understanding of choreographyb into critical and creative motion across choreographic texts.

Also the peer-reviewed journal article Med-koreografi og med-dramaturgi som diffraksjon (Co-choreography and co-dramaturgy as diffraction) by Tone Pernille Østern and Lise Hovik in 2017, is an academic result of this research project focusing on choreography. Baby Body was an artistic research project resulting in a toddler performance with the same title.

Together with Leena Rouhiainen, Tone edited the special issue CHOREOGRAPHY NOW (2020) in the open access peer-reviewed publication channel Dance Articulated. In their Editorial, Rouhiainen and Østern wrote:

The special issue Choreography Now takes seriously the interdisciplinary developments that the art of choreography has undergone during the 21st century and aims at introducing timely discussion and examples of the opportunities these developments have engendered. The special issue acknowledges that choreography has come of age and evolved into an interdisciplinary art form in its own right. Carrying basic insights from its history related to composing movement for the human body and dancing, it now draws inspiration from other forms of the performing and visual arts and even design.

This editorial task concluded the 4-year long research project exploring choreographic processes as poetic, pedagogical and political action in contemporary times. By this, Inclusive Dance Company had also made a clear shift into performative artistic ambitions.

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