Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Movement Matters: Dance, Kinaesthesia and the Avant-Garde

2:00 pm to 6:00 pm, 01 December 2018

Movement matters, painting

Workshop-performance to mark the paperback edition (Bloomsbury, December 2018) of Irina Sirotkina and Roger Smith, The Sixth Sense of the Avant-Garde: Dance, Kinaesthesia and the Arts in Revolutionary Russia.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







UCL Health Humanities Centre


IAS Common Ground
South Wing
Gower Street
United Kingdom

The touch and movement senses have a large place in the modern arts. This is widely discussed and celebrated, often enough as if it represents a breakthrough in a primarily visual age. This book turns to history to show just how significant movement and the sense of movement were to pioneers of modernism at the turn of the 20th century. It makes this history vivid through a picture of movement in the lives of an extraordinary generation of Russian artists, writers, theatre people and dancers bridging the last years of the tsars and the Revolution. Readers will gain a new perspective on the relation between art and life in the period 1890-1920 in great innovators like the poets Mayakovsky and Andrei Bely, the theatre director Meyerhold, the dancer Isadora Duncan and the young men and women in Russia inspired by her lead, and esoteric figures like Gurdjieff. Movement, and the turn to the body as a source of natural knowledge, was at the centre of idealistic creativity and hopes for a new age, for a 'new man', and this was true both for those who looked forward to the technology of the future and those who looked back to the harmony of Ancient Greece. The book weaves history and analysis into a colourful, thoughtful affirmation of movement in the expressive life. 


14.00-14.30 ‘Introduction to movement matters: Science, art and metaphor of kinaesthesia’, Roger Smith (Moscow). 

14.30-15.50 ‘“Bringing the play of the actor closer to dance”: Michael Chekov’s use of movement and gesture’, Rose Whyman (Drama and Theatre Arts, Birmingham). ‘Dance on top: The hierarchy of media in the Ballets Russes’ Liturgie’, Cecilia Stinton (History of Art, UCL).

15.50-16.20 Break

16.20-18.00 Performance of sound poetry (la poésie sonore), Vincent Barras (Institut des humanités en médecine,University of Lausanne). ‘Kinaesthetic politics of post-Soviet Russia: From classical ballet to contemporary dance and performance’, Irina Sirotkina (Moscow).

Short dance performances: 

  • Julia Ponds - Duncan dance improvisation. 
  • Lee Phillips - contemporary dance improvisation. 
  • Irina Sirotkina and Roger Smith - musical movement. 


6.00pm - Local Pub 

Registration: https://movement-matters.eventbrite.co.uk