Rhythm in Body on Stage

International Conference: Rhythm in Body on Stage

The Return Beat – Interfacing with Our Interface.

25-27 February 2022

Rhythm in Acting Practice is an International Conference held under the auspices of The Makings of the Actor,  co-organized by the Theatre Arts and Dance Department of The Frances Rich School of Performing Arts-The American College of Greece, the Labanarium, organized by Dr Olu Taiwo , with the support of Post-doctoral Researcher Dr Kiki Selioni, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.

The Makings of the Actor is organizing a series of conferences based on books from international research practitioners discussing in theory and presenting in practice their works. Practitioners’ books are always a difficult task due to the struggle they have transferring practice into the written form of a book. Although there is always the possibility of recorded documentation with regards to practical work however this is unsatisfactory for practitioners to present their work in a complete way. Current practices like webinars offers a better understanding but still there is no immediate communication that can offer debates, questions and finally exchange of knowledge.

This Conference is part of a series of international events under the aegis of The Makings of the Actor. The mission of The Makings of the Actor project is to gather international practitioners and researchers, from diverse fields of performance practice and scholarship, to develop and disseminate (through conferences and workshops) an evolving performance pedagogy that addresses the needs of present and future actors.

The Event will be held as a Blended (Hybrid) Conference 

In recognition of both the global reach of this theme and the expansive network of interested practitioners and scholars, as well as the impact of the current pandemic, participants are invited to take part either in person or virtually. Conference proceedings will be live-streamed; papers, and where appropriate workshops and demonstrations, can be presented remotely.

Dr. Olu Taiwo in his book: The Return Beat- Interfacing with Our Interface, A Spiritual Approach to the Golden Triangle, coined the term Return Beat referring to a metaphysical experience of West African Rhythm, from a performer-centred approach. This approach draws attention to modes of rhythmic perceptions that highlights certain shared resonant experiences in a group that are cyclical in nature. The Golden triangle refers to the use of rhythm through: Song/spoken word, dance/movement, percussion/drumming. These perceptions are then used as a starting point to discuss individual and cultural practices of ‘being’, ‘becoming’ and ‘performance’ as part of a perception underpinned by a plethora of living forces on planet Earth. Principally, the Return Beat is a rhythmic paradigm that underpins the embodied knowledge of both Pan African people, in other words people who live on the African continent and people of the Pan African cultural Diaspora, who are people of African descent living outside the continent. This knowledge informs the creation and production of temporal space and underpinning its traditional fractal aesthetic. Fractal aesthetics is defined here, as an exponent of a binary fractal aesthetic that is underpinned by the bifurcation of a single pathway with regards to the agency concerning the life of biological systems. It observes the twinning process require for living being to propagate. To clarify, there is a distinction between ‘aesthetics’ and ‘agency’ with reference to the bifurcation of a single pathway.

  • Aesthetics refers to the total field of pathways exemplified by the images of chaos generated by the Mandelbrot set as a whole
  • Agency refers to the result of choice and the ability to choose

The Return beat articulates a specific cultural experience of tempo and its flow within any given rhythm; which is the nature of the beat itself.The Return beat draws attention to the spaces between the beats as well as where the beats occur, as experienced by our physical journal.The concept of the Physical Journal advances a way of conceptualizing living bodies, from the perspective of a practitioner’s lived experience; thisbeing our lived, living and future body’s embodied knowledge and memory. The proposed concepts, underpinned by embodied memories both genetic and cultural, emerge from lived experiences informed by movements derived from a performer’s body in its process of change and development. These memories neurologically construct a kind of virtual body, which is holo-graphically projected as spatialized memory as the Physical Journal, helping living bodies to write and rewrite itself. The resonant embodied understanding of the Return Beat is experienced as a curve leading back to the individual’s sense of self, being and awareness. By echoing the metabolic circular rhythm of our heartbeat, we create an outgoing (centrifugal) and a returning (centripetal) experience pertaining to the duration between repetitive beats. These beats are perceived to emerge from visceralpathways in our embodied experience. Western assumption of repetition as being a static process in duration, subjugated the Yoruba perspective by ridiculing the transformative potential of repetition, reducing what is rhythmically repetitious to something which is unevolved and predictable. Through this lens, the concept of a Return Beat with notionsof returning to the same experience in distributed regions of space, can produceembodied fears of stagnation. However, if we move away from a static perception of temporal space, a perceptual hangover from dualism in the Enlightenment, to a more dynamic perception that includes the living body, then repetition does not unfold in stasis but inpulses and waves.

In light of this, the book explores how trans-cultural aleatoric performance practices that embody and explore rhythms withinthe performer’s physical journal (embodied memory and inter-cultural knowledge) within a given temporal space, can nurture an embodied ability to improvise with awide range of effort qualities and movement phrases. It postulates that performances produced with thisawareness will mean that the performer will have to be rhythmically intuitive with ahigh degree of self-co-ordinating intelligence.

Intercultural fragments are drawn from different cultural discourses that paradoxically co-exist independently with, as well asbeing fused and transformed by, each other. In addition to this rhythmic intelligence, we,as performing artists, can freestyle (improvise/invent) and choreograph within new interactiveand performative structures with the use of remote, interactive and informationtechnologies, to create and communicate new effort shades and performative relationships.

Taking The Return Beat – Interfacing with Our Interface as both a framework and provocation, this conference will delve into its various themes and practices, offering a platform for practitioner and scholars to share and reflect on their perspectives and insights into rhythm within acting and performance. Through presentations, work demonstrations and discussions, we will explore common themes as well as differing understandings and approaches to rhythm in this field.

We welcome submissions from practitioners and scholars including acting/voice/movement/dance teachers, acting coaches, theatre and performance practitioners, actors, directors, dancers, choreographers, playwrights/script writers, film directors/makers, composers, training practitioners, designers,theatre and dance researchers and academic researchers within various aspects of practice and performance theory.