why. what. how.

On 27 Aug 2014, in dancehacker, teacher, by ricardo


Lectures and Research

The Secret: What do dancers know?

'Dance is at the bottom of the food chain.' (William Forsythe 2009)

Neuroscientists, philosophers, and also dance academics of all sorts have been trying to figure out what it is: what do dancers know that other people can't grasp? Unless they've been through the mill of arduous training and rehearsing, they have no way of knowing it. Call it embodied knowledge, somatic intelligence and so forth, it is rarely articulated by dancers, so there's little understanding of it outside the dancer's circle. It is a secret. A secret not by intention but by virtue of its nonverbal nature.

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A cat named Pino

On 27 Jul 2018, in dancehacker, by ricardo

Photo via Good Free Photos

There was a black cat named Pino. Pino was the companion of a friend who lived in a loft in the White Street in Tribeca, NYC. His name was Manuel Alum. A dancer, Manuel was a charismatic and hypnotic performer. He was utterly committed to his art, to a fault. I met Manuel at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in 1980, some years later I joined his performing tribe in NYC. I call it a tribe because for many of us, dancers, performing becomes more than a profession. The dance becomes a life-long obsession to show the non-dancing world, what a transformation this art can trigger in people. We are in the tribe. Manuel Alum had a friend nicknamed Pina. They most likely met many years before in Italy. They were both members of the tribe. I don’t know if Pina liked Pino, or if that matters at all. Exactly 30 years ago, Manuel gathered the three of us to celebrate our birthdays – hers in that evening and mine past midnight. A curious twist of fate intertwines our tribes again. I now work creating history from the memories of other extraordinary members of her tribe – to document her legacy. She triggered transformation in many levels and for many people. This is a joy and a privilege. Happy birthday Pina Bausch.

oral history


Oral History

On 01 Feb 2016, in blog, by ricardo

microphone line art

Developing strategies to articulate about dance. Let's talk

oral history



On 29 Jul 2015, in dancehacker, teacher, by ricardo



How is dance generated?

dance ontology

Three approaches to observe the process of creation.
Format: Lecture/performance

In this lecture/performance, 3 theoretical models of morphogenesis are exposed and a live example is performed.

  1. What is Morphogenesis

    Morphogenesis is the process that determines how biological forms are differentiated and organized. A right or a left limb have the same genetical materials, why and how it takes one form or another is not biologically fully explained yet. Performance undergoes similar processes; the coding and rules of genetics as in the modes of communication, the materials and mechanics of genes in the instruments and scores, dance steps and the bodies, are present in the same way. The moment of decision that differentiates and piles up a cell in one way or another, and the combination of one movement next to another has been the subject of theories in the recent past. Three approaches to this issue are presented here, from biology, from quantum physics applied to Jungian Psychology and from performance studies.
    • 1.1 Chreode
      A neologism created by biologist Conrad H. Waddington in his book The Strategy of the Genes from 1957, chreode (chre – necessary und hodos - path) is explained by using an analogy that uses gravity as an easy to relate phenomenon in the physical world: a ball rolling along a path. The theory of chreode provides for self organisation, natural temporal framework and variation of form.
    • 1.2 Attractors
      In combining chaos theory with Jungian Archetypes, psychologist John R. Van Eenwyk creates a possible model that inverts causation and lends to behavior with posterior causation. The future pulls creation as opposed to being pushed from the past. Creativity is this sense, most likely, operates freed from natural time.
    • 1.3 Viscosity
      Portuguese philosopher José Gil introduces the concept of 'viscosity' to explain movement choices in his article "O Corpo Paradoxal" (Paradoxical Body) in his book "Movimento Total – O Corpo e a Dança" from 2001. According to his postulate, dance is channeled through paths of lower viscosity that are sensed by the dancer in the act of dancing.
  2. Observing morphogenesis in performance

    In dance the morphogenesis can be observed both in the rehearsal room by observing specific interactions of the choreographer and dancer, but also in performance by restricting some parameters and concentrating the observation on specific variables. To access the creation moment, this presentation will use a methodology developed by german dance pedagogue Rolf Gelewski. Gelewski is a disciple of Mary Wigman in the analytical genealogy of Rudolf von Laban.
  3. Rolf GelewskiRolf Gelewski was a dancer and educator born in 1930 in Berlin. Acclaimed by the press in the 50s as a new Harald Kreuzberg, he was sent by Mary Wigman to establish the first contemporary dance education program in the University of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil in the 1960s. His later pedagogical work structured a methodology to access the creative impulse in a dance yoga-like meditation system. His influence also reaches the Auroville community in India. Gelewski was killed in a car accident in 1986.
  4. Summary

    Models for explaining morphogenesis in performance transcend the natural sciences toolkit, still, it can be observed and described. This lecture/demonstration proposes three approaches to observe this phenomena. After exposing these theories a short dance piece will be performed to enable an observation under the aspects of morphogenesis of a moment of creation. This dance piece - "Blue Danube" - presents a frame that constrains the observable phenomenon of improvisation in three parameters: Force, Speed and Timing. An early full video of this dance can be seen here: Danube @ DanceSpace NYC 1986

”What kind of Future do we want to build?” Ricardo Viviani presentation at ArtEZ Arnhem



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Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse

On 25 Nov 2012, in productions, by ricardo


Die Prinzessin auf der Erbse - das Märchen zur Weihnachtszeit am theaterhagen

Prinz Malte Nils Finn Jannik Søren Jasper soll heiraten. Aber er darf nicht entscheiden, wen! Denn seine Eltern haben genaue Vorstellungen von der zukünftigen Schwiegertochter: Aus einem reichen Königshaus soll sie stammen, sittsam, schweigsam und empfindsam muss sie sein. Aber was ist, wenn der Prinz keine Lust auf‘s Heiraten hat? Schon gar nicht eine unbekannte Königstochter.

Im nahe gelegenen Wald begegnet er Jette. Stark ist sie, klug und selbstständig, ganz anders als alle Mädchen, die er je gesehen hat. Ein bisschen erschreckt sie ihn, denn sie schläft auf dem Boden, lebt alleine, ist ziemlich dreckig und riecht fremd. Trotzdem bringt sie sein Herz zum Rasen. Plötzlich will der Prinz ganz schnell heiraten, nämlich Jette! Aber so einfach geht das nicht. Im Schloss muss Jette erst noch die große Prüfung der Königin bestehen. Doch 20 Matratzen, eine winzige Erbse und ein gut gehütetes Geheimnis des Haushofmeisters Andersen führen schließlich zu einem glücklichen Ende.


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