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Par PhD Thesis Abstract



Claire Louise French


In this doctoral thesis I explore methods for choreographic sense-making through collective dance-making. In contrast to a sole-authored choreographic perspective, I explore how social and artistic temporary engagement explicitly informs group dance-devising processes. The research draws on my experience as an independent choreographer working on a project-to-project basis with different groupings, ranging from professional dance ensembles to student groups, to ad-hoc and community collectives, and interdisciplinary, collaborative teams. I have developed a practice as research model, and a facilitatory framework to focus on how choreographic sense-making as shared practice might be discovered, rather than assumed. Through a choreographic lens, I have applied De Jaegher and Di Paolo’s (2007) theoretical notion of participatory sense-making to develop a practical framework that articulates choreographing as a socio-artistic practice.Explorations from implementing and facilitating a set of designed practical strategies are included as video excerpts, illuminating participants’ contributions to decision-making, individual and joint sense-making, improvisation, spontaneous strategizing, discussion, and communication. The goal of the research has been to explore and invest in the notion that a choreographic perspective is wider than the choreographer’s perspective alone. I propose that a work can be co-developed and continue to evolve as a group heightens its sense of composition, if facilitated through a sense-making lens. Drawing on Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of assemblage (1987) I conceptually address the macro-forming of an artistic work as a continuous navigating of relations between form, content, expression, structure, and energetic connection between the participants, from which the notion of choreographic sense-making as a collective vision can develop. Through notions of assemblage and participatory sensemaking, I speculate on how a work as an artistic entity continues to evolve and reterritorialize through the group’s ongoing embodied sense-making toward generating a type of enlivened social aesthetic. 


The submission comprises a written, critical commentary, a framework in development, a group practice as research (PaR) model, video excerpts from the on-going par explorations and a live exposition of the CSM Framework in practice, presented in January 2022.

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