History of Art


Conference: A Call for Action: Moving is Understanding

12 June 2021, 10:00 am–4:00 pm


This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Hannah Woods

A Call for Action: Moving is Understanding is a day-long conference that considers the valuable contributions dance can bring to the field of Art History, and how it can interrogate and expand the knowledge structures on which the discipline is based. The conference will be an opportunity to come together to present papers and share performance practices, exploring and engaging with dance as a means to reconsider the personal, the social, the political and the ethical. We invite speakers/practitioners to engage with contemporary and historic material to highlight how dance produces and (re)configures relations - between self and other, body and environment - exposing power structures and providing an alternative means to knowledge. 

Following the conference, presentations and conversations will be recorded within a print publication, motor dance journal. motor is a forthcoming, self-published journal that will provide astute, accessible written and visual explorations of dance, from a diverse body of contributors who practice, theorise, programme or simply enjoy dance. 

The day’s programme will be organised by three themes; ‘1: solo activities’, ‘2: duets/dialogues’, and ‘3: group work’. Whilst we would not like these groupings to appear limiting, they will provide a structuring principle for our investigation into the various ways a body, or multiple bodies, can be activated and mobilised to forge both internal and external relationships.

The day's line-up is as follows:

10.15-10.30 welcome & introduction from motor co-editors Isabelle Bucklow and Hannah Woods

10.30-11.45  Session 1 | Solo(s)

  • Face after Face: Cruising as a ‘quick dance’ - Jack Parlett, Junior Research Fellow in English at University College, Oxford University.
  • Choreography as Climate Action: Embodied Experience and Environmental Movements - Subathra Subramaniam, choreographer, dancer, educator and Artistic Director at Akademi (the UK’s leading South Asian Dance organisation).
  • Our Bodies Our Archives - Tamsin Hong, Assistant Curator of Performance at Tate Modern.

11.45-12.00 break

12.00-13.15 Session 2 | Duets/Dialogues

  • Movement, life, performance - Helia Marcal, conservator, researcher and lecturer in Art, Materials and Technology at University College London
  • The Old Coat: Some brief reflections on dance, plot and itinerancy - Clair Wills, King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge and a keen, if not very proficient, jazz dancer.
  • A dialogue with the archival body (A reference to a reference to monumentality) - Sanna Helena Berger, artist working with performance, choreography, installation, video, text and sound. 
  • The Critique of Institutional Dressage: Mike Kelley and Kate Foley’s Pantomime Horse Dance - Lisa Moravec, critic, researcher, and PHD candidate at Royal Holloway’s Drama, Theatre, and Dance department

13.15-14.00 break

14.00-15.15 Session 3 | Groupwork

  • The founding and early history of Chisenhale Dance Space (1980-1988) - Rachael Davies, curator, researcher, writer and PHD candidate at Centre for Dance Research at Coventry University
  • Crush: Social Embodiment in Yvonne Rainer's ‘Concept of Dust’ - Caitrín Barrett-Donlon, art historian and dancer, based in London.
  • HERDING, 2021 - Movement /// Possession - London-based platform for experimentation with movement and play - with Isa Rakel, performance artist and activist.

15.15-16.00 Keynote

Candela Capitán, contemporary dancer and choreographer (Lesionada Bendicion). Candela will provide a live performance of her work The Death at the Club. in 45 min. (2018 -2021).



The conference will take place on June 12th over Zoom. Please send any questions to hannah.woods.15@ucl.ac.uk