The emerging sense: enabling intuition in my choreographic practice

This ancient wooden meter and the word "lunghissimo" met by chance on the floor. They became the journey, my path up to here, my future path and now also yours, dear reader.




Follow it as I did

in the middle of plains without a tree to lean on


hanging from precipices where I slipped because I was running too much


hidden in the branches

slow like a turtle that needs its time to stop.




Roll with my questions and tranform them into yours.

Take your time to not understand

to come back or to jump forward.




Follow your intuition to navigate the space,  

get lost in the huge white space 

and find your way to get out when the void suggests you where to go.




"At the beginning there are only suggestions, glimpses. Remnants of dialogue, an episode that strikes me. Even a single word or phrase that seems to me to have a relationship with the topic I'm interested in writing about. A meteorological description, or a fragment of a poem. Then I start reflecting on this material, I begin to add, to build, maybe I write what it reminded me of, or I insert some lines of dialogue. I try never to ask myself what it is or what it belongs to. Sometimes it's obvious, but even if it's not, it still matters to meThis is how the first pages are born, all germinated by an image or a sentence. The goal is to leave this material in disorder for as long as possible, as long as I can tolerate it, so as not to preclude any of the possibilities it contains. It is an intermediate stage in which I begin to organize a structure and then check this structure based on the chronological order. Sometimes a sentence does not find its place for ten years. But that's okay for me, and in the end I realize that I've been able to use almost everything.” (Cibrario 2021, p. 83[1])

Let me please introduce myself
I'm a woman of hearth and brain


I come from a dance background, I have started dancing when I was a kid, then I pursued a professional education in ballet and contemporary dance, in parallel at 19 years old I have also carried on a research and university path. Up to now the two lives never really met: I was experiencing myself committed in two different binaries and that reflected also in my practice and in my life, the rational and scientific approach was caging what I have always felt as a natural expression of myself, the “natural way of knowing” was fading towards and overarching  “explanatory knowledge”.


Intuition was the word that somehow came into my path and appeared to me as an exploratory ground able to bridge the kind of gap that I had and I needed to bring it together, pushed me towards the creation certain tools that allowed me to communicate with others my creative process.


When I was a child, I rarely doubted my intuitive abilities, I wasn’t putting any effort on understanding why or in explaining what I simply knew, an unconscious easiness that gradually began to fade away while I grew up. External judgements and the need of proving through

“universally recognized” knowledge what I thought, what I was saying, what I was making, slowly squeezed my intuitive abilities towards the corner of my brain under the label “limit the use”.


It is through this awareness that I embarked on this journey of letting go and rediscovery.

My creative process plays with collages and compositional practices at different levels: I combine fragment of images in order to reach new combinations and unexpected meanings and I use them as a source of creation with the body; I play with sounds and speeches mashed up, discovering new narratives that eventually serve as a score for the body to move. Through visual references I play with improvisation sessions where my body is instigated by questions to which I reply freely, embracing the intutive thoughts emerging in this state of movement, thus producing a continues generative process where the inner world of immagination connects with external reality. My body plays with absurdity, between the lack of harmonious agreement of parts not fitting together and the human as an integral being who is thinking, feeling, sensing and apprehending “inside” a body. I consider dance emerging from a continuous stream of evolving influences, conceptual processing, physical sensation, and psychomotor skill all bound together in time and space. I see body textures as a key to modulate energy and sensibility in the body towards a phisical driven emotional response. 

I am triggered by unexpected, by meaningful accidents (synchronicity) and developments when I suddenly combine bodies not meant to relate together.

These concepts are embraced on a double level, both in the search for movement and in the compositional and dramaturgical process.

What this is all about 

The research is the continuation of the enquiry on fostering intuition in the creation process and enhancing the choreographer’s intuitive skills that I have started during the first cycle. Following Hogarth’s (2010) assumption stating that intuition can be explicitly educated, the focus of the first cycle was on how to trigger intuitive mechanism in my creation process, with a first attempt in identifying the needs for preparing myself in order to catch synchronicities, resonances and intuitive thoughts in my choreographic research.

After having articulated the role of intuition in my creative work, I will now focus on my movement language and on the qualities of movement I am interested to explore through specific keys of transmission. In this phase I am moving a step forward from the dualistic consideration of logic vs intuitive approach in my creative process, by discussing the tension they generate in terms of swirling intricacies and fruitful cohabitation in dance-making. In this second cycle I intend to deepen the discourse on practices allowing the awakening of the senses for an open circulation of intuition in the studio work, through a ritual of preparation for the creation of movement. The aim is to help me as a maker to tune in my intuitive thoughts and to further explore ways of transmission of the choreographic inputs to other bodies.



I share here some keywords that helped me to frame, articulate and understand the direction of the second cycle of research. Part of this phase will deal exactly with the definition of some of them revealing insights of my practice and usable in my approach with external bodies and minds for the creation. This continues to be a transformative and liquid section that I expect to develop further and mix with the first cycle outcomes, through this final round of research.


Intuition: a cognitive process that somehow produces an answer, solution or idea, without the use of a conscious, logical defensible step by step process. A cognition reached with little apparent effort and typically without conscious awareness, with the character of being given, in contrast to the 'derived' or 'deduced' character of feeling and thinking.


The intuitive body: the psychophysical condition that allows an introspective movement research, close to meditative practice, where diving deep within one self’s perception becomes a necessary condition to relate to others. The place and the moment where imagination work is filtered through physicality, where intuition guides thoughts and body choices, gestures and shapes emerge out of movement, rather than the reverse.

Metaphor: Primary mechanism for creative cognition to be manifested. I refer to metaphor as an inference via the similarities and differences in certain properties between entities not causally linked (Cornelissen, 2005; Schön, 1979).

Movement texture: the quality of a movement generated by a peculiar imaginary which causes a specific activation of the muscular apparatus connected to the skeleton with a reaction on the dynamics of movement and on its consistence.

Imagery:the use of pictures or words to represent a situation or a mental state used to generate a reaction on a kinesthetic level.



I have started from a ‘zooming out’, by exploring recurring presences in my choreographic work; then I made a ‘long view’, which reflects from a greater distance, and also with hindsight, on intuition as a source for my creation practice which have informed this research. Then I went for a ‘close up’ view of my practice, at the level of the body in the pre-choreographic phase and for a ‘mid-shot’, which looks at the raw material of the choreographic sequences and scores.


This process oscillates continuously: sometimes the movie scene starts from the mid-shot and it is followed by a long view, or viceversa, or many other unexpected combinations guided by intuition as a leading force shaping the whole process.



The investigative approaches I am using, move back and forth from practice-and-research to practice-as-research methodologies, so both the knowledge acquired from the creative practice informs the critical explorations and the creative work can become itself the research, the embodiment of the knowledge (Niedderer & Roworth-Stokes, 2007; Skains, 2018).

I will use mainly an autoethnographical and ethnographical methods of investigation, prioritizing qualitative enquiry on my personal experience and on dancers’ ones (Ellis & Bochner, 2000; Skains, 2018). I consider the self-questioning that autoethnography demands as a potential tool to activate emotional response and provide spaces for fostering further conversation rather than provoking premature conclusions. Practice and manipulation of aspects of the practice through the lenses of observation, reflection and re-iteration will enrich the outcomes and contribute to the achievement of a ready and available mind-body set receptive to the emergence of resonances, serendipities and paradoxes, both subjects of enquiry and methodologies of exploration in my work.

Contributing to my awareness will be interviews and feedback loops activated with dancers and with myself, colleagues and audience. I embrace the epistemological tensions created by mixed research methods: in this second phase the tools I will deal with are mainly movement explorations for the creation of a descriptive glossary useful for my work, scores and collage as a reflection but also as a creative generative practice (Copeland, 2002), collection of sources of inspiration, writing (storytelling and poetry), audio-video archives and review of diverse sources (books, articles, dance pieces, movies and artworks).

This miniatures escaped from my toolbox. Would you like to have a look at it?




How can I foster intuition in my process as a way to produce movement and choreographic material?


Are there ways of “educating” it in order to let it emerge in the creative process?


How does intuition contribute in constructing unexpected narratives affecting me as an author, and the structures of the choreography that result?


How to describe the intuitive imagery evoked to generate a specific movement quality, the intention and the mental state needed to be in it?



The concept of intuition has been defined in many different ways depending on the context and the purpose that such term has been used for. Following the dictionary, intuition refers to:


“immediate apprehension or cognition, the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without rational thought and inference, quick and ready insight”


Here I see two elements in common: the speed of knowing and the lack of rational thought process, together with a sense of knowledge that has been built up over time thought past intuitions. I am still in the process of exploration to develop my personal definition, for the moment I refer to Hogarth (2010), considering intuition as:

“A cognitive process that somehow produces an answer, solution or idea, without the use of a conscious, logical defensible step by step process (Hogarth’s, 2010, p. 5)”

“Thoughts that are reached with little apparent effort, and typically without conscious awareness.They involve little or no conscious deliberation (Hogarth’s, 2010, p. 21)”

I connect it with Carl Jung (1946) theories on personality, distinguishing mental functions in four typologies: thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition. Following Jung, “like sensation, it is an irrational perceptive function. Its contents, like those of sensation, have the character of being given, in contrast to the 'derived' or 'deduced' character of feeling and thinking (Jung, 1946, p. 567)”.


I see intuition as the seed for the creative process of every artist and despite originating from unconscious and unawareness, I consider it as something that can be fed through personal processes able to stimulate it. Following Hogarth’s (2010) assumption arguing that intuition can be explicitly educated, I’ve tried to list how I trigger intuitive mechanism in my creation process, and I’ve tried to identify the needs for preparing myself in order to catch synchronicities, resonances and intuitive thoughts in my choreographic work.

In my academic studies I have been studying Chinese, and I was aware on how Western philosophy largely neglects the value of intuition, which is a concept deeply rooted in Chinese tradition.


Wang (2012) discusses the use of the Chinese concept of Wù, meaning awareness through intuitive imagination via metaphor, as a translation of the word intuition that goes beyond the contradiction between rational and intuitive thought typical of the western approach. Instead, this word “seeks to reconcile intuition with analysis through a notion of a unique concept for both science and art” (Wang, 2012, p. 110).


This meeting was even clearer for me when I have looked for the Chinese character, and I found the key in the strokes.


The radical of the vertical heart = in Chinese it means both heart, mind and sensation

The wide-open mouth = the surprise and the amusement of the discovery


Functions that in the West are generally attributed to the mind (rational thinking) and to the “hearth(emotional feeling), in the Chinese tradition are all combined in the “heart”, which is therefor and organ of both thought and emotion: “the hearth” of the Chinese is never at odds with “the mind”, simply because “the mind” and “the heart” are one.


While reading on in this concept I began to bring in elements that were already present in my research and to develop more concretely avenues for creating that found a correspondence with three ways of practicing Wù. I use them to create and to transfer the same process to other bodies.



Primary mechanism for creative cognition to be manifested.
Expressions and actions initiated by the Zen masters to instill intuitive mechanisms.
Unbuilding of the moving body as an instrument that vibrates with textures.

Click to go in my gallery of textures