OPENLAB: Facilitated by Shannon Stweart

Facilitated by Shannon Stewart

14th September | 10am – 1pm | £7 suggested donation


MIRROR / WINDOW / RIFT is a series of practices that bring attention to the experiences and implications of watching and being watched. How can we be in a mutually beneficial place of sensing and changing without inhibition? For OPENLAB, this is aimed at performers and watchers of performance.  We will use tools/actions/scores that are familiar but slightly re-configured to look for rifts, illegible or unfamiliar spaces. Can we co-exist there?

MIRROR / / WINDOW / / RIFT is part of body-based theory practice*—an open source term I have proposed for putting improvisational and somatic practices and proposals in conversation with queer, feminist, crip and critical race theory. Within this framework, the threads of research are manifold so I will focus this session on one strand of inquiry that I’ve been busy with this year called watch her transform.

Here are some questions we will bring into the room:

What is looking at/watching/witnessing/observing?
How have we embodied very different stakes around watching/being watched based on POV?
How are we constantly changing? How do we experience and share the experience of non-fixity across lines of performer/watcher?
Do we need as much (re)training to see/watch/observe differently as we need training to undo movement patterns and problematic embodiments?
How do we share transformation without projecting onto another?



OPENLAB sessions are open to any performers: dancers, musicians, actors and anyone interested in presence and awareness in performance.

The facilitators of OPENLAB are also participants “in” the session and participants can propose their ideas for a future session. If you’d like to know more about this, come to one of our sessions or email Antonio de la Fe (

The sessions function on a pay-what-you-can contribution basis to cover expenses and as an incentive for the facilitator of the session. We suggest a contribution of £7 for the 3-hour long sessions (‘Facilitated OL sessions) and of £5 for the 2-hour long ones (‘White Canvas’).

Chisenhale Dance Space
64-84 Chisenhale Road
E3 5QZ



Critical theorists from many disciplines propose that we formulate our identities through repeated quotations, embodied gestures and acts that circulate and reinforce one another.  These things are understood as individual but enacted collectively and reinforce interlocking systems and modes of being that further systems of domination, exploitation and violence but also (maybe more hopefully) forms of resistance, disruption, reimagining.

As a dance artist it is interesting to conceive and reconceive of bodily conditioning and training and discrepancies between conscious and unconscious, intentional and unintentional, complicit and coerced.  This learned “repertoire of life” is part of everyday existence but is also the very practice of dance – repeated bodily motions, repeated hierarchies, repeated and reinforced trajectories. Queer theorists and gender theorists suggest ways in which we can reorient or subvert our embodied inclinations.  Is/can dance be a hopeful intervention in the space between conscious and unconscious? And in what form? A workshop? A forum? A Performance? A protest?

In cross-pollinating queer theory with physical practice, it is my intent to propose that the practice is the theory itself and the theory is the practice –that it is in the doing/experiencing that the theory is manifest and activated.


About the Artist:

Shannon Stewart is a choreographic artist who splits her time between New Orleans and Europe. Her company Screaming Traps explores the intersection of dance practices, embodied identities and social choreographies. For Shannon, the body’s participation in everyday life, social systems, and how we know ourselves is an opportunity for choreographic research. Simultaneously, the practice of dance rituals is a potential for un-training, retraining, making and unmaking. She’s proposed an open source method called Body Based Theory Practice and presented this research in dance symposiums in the US and Europe. Her work has been presented in theatres, bars, parades, river banks, living rooms, film screens, galleries, and in obscure places on the internet.

Artist Website