Hannah Kosstrin

The invisible aspect of my practice/research is my critique of the Laban systems of movement notation and analysis even as I use them as research tools. I am critical of these systems because of their kinesthetic residue from their progenitors’ historical actions related to Nazism; the ways practitioners uncritically employed them during the past century as ways to capture dances from outside their cultural context; the aesthetic gatekeeping they engender; and the ways that applying them uncritically as analytical frames inflicts violence onto dance-objects of analysis. Once I recognized that my extensive training in them so disciplined how I analyze movement that I could not extricate myself from them, I had to reconcile the ways they have colonized my analytical seeing techniques and figure out how to harness those skills for good. In many ways the elements of these systems I find most useful are the ones that become invisible because of the kind of critical approach I engage to use them. When employing the usable parts of these systems and recognizing their biases, they can be efficient and nuanced tools for harnessing kinesthetic ways of knowing. This critical distance has been most generative for how I consider ways of analyzing movement within analog, digital, and computing modalities. My provocation is: How do the ways we critique our tools affect our work in parallel or divergent ways from the manner(s) in which we use them?

Hannah Kosstrin, The Ohio State University