A conversation about Studio Conversations

Filmed conversation between Gunhild Mathea Husvik-Olaussen, co-editor of VIS issue #10 (themed Circulating Practices), and Andrew Hardwidge, Chrysa Parkinson and Frank Bock, authors of Studio Conversations. During this conversation, the editor interweaves the Studio Conversations with the overarching theme of Circulating Practices.

Through this conversation, you'll get an insight into Studio Conversations, a research project focused on ways of asking contemporary dance artists about the practices, working and knowing happening in their dancing.

Studio Conversations was originally intended to be published as an exposition in VIS. In recognition of the project's specific approach, we decided in dialogue with the authors to depart from the conventional exposition format. Instead, we've chosen to present Studio Conversations as a video conversation. This decision stems from our commitment to presenting artistic research in a way that best reflects the purpose of the project and the vision of its creators. The conversation was filmed on Stockholm University of the Arts (SKH) premises at Filmhuset on 29 September 2023.

For subtitles, please visit vimeo: Studio Conversations


Studio Conversations

Studio Conversations are documented meetings between a dance artist and one or more conversation partners that take place in a dance studio.

Studio Conversations invite the artist to speak about things that matter, from the perspective of their situatedness. This includes attention to an individual human subjectivity and  wider, dispersed senses of subjectivity. The conversations move between how dance practitioners are constituted and how forces such as affects, horizons and shared concerns can manifest choreographically. The Studio Conversation invites the consequences of textures, atmospheres, qualities, rhythms, and metaphors. The practice is loose, subjective, and open-ended.

Through the Studio Conversations, Frank, Chrysa and their collaborators, have aimed to develop a means of question formation that does not ask for solutions or direct answers but instead proposes structures to support an embodied articulation of the unruly materials that constitute dancing and dance making. Studio Conversations explore the interactions, balance and negotiation between somatic experience and language, prioritizing nuances that emerge in activated space and time.

This project has thus far focused on the communities working in professionalized concert dance and the academy in Northern Europe and North America. Studio Conversations were started as ‘Clearings’ by Frank Bock c.2008 and have developed into the current format in collaboration with Chrysa Parkinson. Later, Andrew Hardwidge, contributed specifically to the documentation and presentation of the project. In June 2022 Chrysa, Frank and Andrew Hardwidge hosted a presentation of the Studio Conversations research at Stockholm University of the Arts, Brinellvägen 58, Studios 12 and 13. Collaborators include: Alice Mackenzie, Andrew Hardwidge, Anna Westberg, Peter Mills, and Tilman O’Donnel.

In Studio Conversations your own knowledge as a dance practitioner creates the site of discourse. As the dance artist, you meet a conversation host in a dance studio. You are provided with a simple palette of materials and respond to prompts and questions given to you by your conversation partner. You take c. 30 min to be with the questions, in the space with the materials provided, and consider your artistic experience in relation to the prompts. Then the conversation partner(s) come into the newly shifted space, asking questions, experiencing details – engaging with the nuances of the spatialization you have created. Some days after the conversation, you receive an audio recording and transcript for redaction, and return it to the conversation partner.

After the conversation is over and the transcript is done, sometimes,
The host and their fellow researchers will create objects that hold your conversation or stand in for it.
Sometimes they will create poems from the transcripts.
Sometimes they will create monsters – mixing different transcripts.
Sometimes they make drawings.
They will almost never create video recordings of the studio conversation you had.
Out of respect for wandering and lost thoughts, for blurring, skipping, spilling….
Out of respect for mixing things up, and for what’s left in the dark, the researchers only publish scraps and partialities.
This partialness of the documentation to the conversations is a principle.


Chrysa Parkinson
For Chrysa, a recurring impetus in relation to the studio conversations has been finding ways to think about the agency and authorship of the dancer over their work and within the aesthetic regimes their participation shapes. Underlying this interest in calling out the history of the subordination of dancers' creative process to choreographers' in 20th-century concert dance is an ongoing curiosity about what dancers' authorship and participation consist of, and what it needs in order to be sustainable throughout a dance artist's life.
One of the concerns has been to honor the oral tradition of dance practices – qualities of voice, senses of proximity and scale that orality transmits.
The Dance Studio/Clearing Conversations have been contexts for close listening and imaginative exchange that leave a language-trace: turns of phrase, metaphoric leaps, blurring of matter and concept into malleable, textural poetics with inherent specificity to the place and time they were spoken. These traces make meaningful nuance tangible, valuing the dancer's artistic process and its ongoing relation to language-ing as an action.

Frank Bock
Frank developed the initial methodology for the Studio Conversations in relation to studies in existential phenomenology and psychotherapy as a form of life audit for an individual to articulate what concerns are at play for them. Developing this initially as a workshop to support dance artists it overlapped / was developed alongside the first five years of his studies.

When working as a dancer Frank described a feeling, a desire for more time in the studio to reflect and experience the reasons and value for being a dancer. A sense of the potency of that time and space could have had for him if it weren't always directed and consumed by the dictates of the next freelance dance project that somehow seemed to direct the next steps. Studio conversations aim to use the sense of open potential to reflect on dancers' experiences. The early beginnings of the method draws from practices of attention and witnessing that Frank has developed in relation to his work as a somatic experiencing facilitator and an existential psychotherapist.  

Andrew Hardwidge
Andrew joined the studio conversations project as a co-researcher and as a collaborating editor and dramaturg. He shares an interest in embodied practices and the working of dancers; the ways knowledges are made and held and the implications for social / cultural worlds.



This page was created by VIS – Nordic Journal for Artistic Research. The video is produced by Carl Amnert, Stockholm University of the Arts (SKH).