Photo Credit: Sandra Noeth

Sandra Noeth is a dramaturge, cultural scholar and curator based in Berlin.

Her research interests include “integrity and protest in relation to the human body,” the connection between aesthetics and politics, and “bodies in bordering situations” (CREATE Ireland + Dublin Dance Festival).


Photo Credit: Siobhan Davies Dance and Dublin Dance Festival

As part of her residency with Dance Limerick and Dublin Dance Festival Sandra Noeth showcased her ideas involving movement and environments. She asked these questions: “How might physical and choreographic strategies represent, implement, legitimise and rehearse social and political action?” and “How do empathy, presence, improvisation or compositions inform the experience of borders?” (Dublin Dance Festival Programme)

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Photo Credit: The World Atlas of Street Art by Rafael Schacter. Artists: David Renault and Mathieu Tremblin

Movement is integral to art production, the making of place and composing identity in relation to social and political environments. Art therapy involves the art of movement, and can contribute to an understanding of aesthetics and politics. An examination of borders is part of art therapy – making lines demarcating personal distinctions and demonstrating the crossing-over into new areas of discernment. Art therapy can also inform protests that are both personal and socially informed.

Art therapy marks out routes of passage within a designated space, it can design sequences of movement and denote a body in motion. Compositions on the move, explorations of environment, and art influenced by context that simultaneously re-imagines space according to somatic knowledge.

The art therapy studio can also include the world-at-large.

Art therapy contributes to civic dialogue – art therapy asking complicated questions about expression and representation in civil society.


“I am currently working both as a curator as well as an academic researcher on understanding the role, status and agency of the body in bordering processes. I am looking at different experiences of borders and boundaries – national and geopolitical, architectural, material and built borders, as well as more symbolic, imagined, social, gender-related ones. They are very often negotiated through the body, through movement, physicality and performativity. And I question how the body, how movement-based strategies can inform us about these processes. How for example practical and theoretical knowledge from dance and choreography, how composition and improvisation, embodiment or somatic modes of attention, rhythm and affects might help us understand the experience of bordering but also how borders are staged, aestheticized, rehearsed, represented, and ultimately legitimised maintained or challenged”

(Sandra Noeth Quotations, from CREATE (National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts, Ireland), News/May 2017, Sandra Noeth on “Bodies, Borders and Movement” an interview with Deirdre Mulrooney)

Either Way, Make a Move

March 6, 2017


Photo: Hazel Meyer, Hyper-Hyper (Artist in the Classroom, The Pedagogical Impulse)

A Workshop for the School of Arts Education and Movement
Dublin City University, Institute of Education

Pamela Whitaker, Groundswell

  • Classroom as Art Studio
  • Teaching as Performance
  • Teacher and Students as Artist Collective
  • Social Choreography in School
  • Students as Curators
  • Education as a Happening 

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Photo: Art Out Loud, Basement Gallery, Dundalk

I am interested in the theme of choreography, and how students can generate movement motifs through interacting with objects and words that stimulate physical actions and movement responses. Choreography is a change of space, new ways of going, and actions taking shape.


Photo: The Medieval Garden Challenge

Dance and Movement Benefits Children’s Physical Development, Emotional Expression, Social Awareness, Cognitive Agility, Mental Health, Communication

The classroom as an artwork can inspire movement, creation and also a disruption of ‘order’ (Stephanie Springgay, 2014). We will explore lines of connection between different spaces in a classroom, and develop routes of movement that interrupt expectation. We will be unconventional, in the moment, and attention seeking. Words, situations, and objects will move us on.

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Photo: Art Out Loud, Basement Gallery, Dundalk

The classroom as a happening is about animated learning. A situation is created whereby students re-define their educational surroundings. It is subject to flexibility. Art in this sense is related to environment, an atmosphere, and a studio of ideas. Happenings were first introduced by the artist Allan Kaprow. They are experiences where art, physical action, sound, words and environment are assembled within a specific time frame to promote participation and improvisation.

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Photo: Graffiti Inspired Movement in a Pedestrian Tunnel


Photo: The Medieval Garden Challenge

“SOCIAL CHOREOGRAPHY engages everyone’s perception and knowledge of….[movement]…inquiring if and how individuals can imaginatively order and re-order aspects of their personal, social, cultural and political lives.” Michael Klien, The Institute of Social Choreography

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Photo: Sophie Nüzel,

Stephanie Springgay is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto. She considers a classroom a work of art.

As an experimenter, the artist-teacher does not mold students into a work of art, as if the students simply become raw materials. Rather artist-teacher-student-classroom become a creative assemblage filled with the potential to open itself to future creative instances. If a classroom operates as a work of art, not as an object manipulated from the outside, it becomes enmeshed and enlived. A “classroom as a work of art,” we argue, re-conceptualizes the artist-teacher as productively co-mingling with students and space. Stephanie Springgay, The Pedagogical Impulse,

All the listings below are links to Springgay articles:

The Pedagogical Impulse: Aberrant Residencies and Classroom Ecologies

The Pedagogical Impulse: Research-Creation at the Intersection Between Social Practice and Pedagogy

How do you make a classroom operate like a work of art? Deleuzeguattarian methodologies of research-creation

Cloth as Intercorporeality: Touch, Fantasy, and Performance
and the Construction of Body Knowledge, International Journal of Education and the Arts


Photo: Landmarks: Nature, Art, Schools Workshops in County Louth

image-5.jpgPhoto: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Therapy Classroom Installation


Photo and Article Link: Teaching with Contemporary Art in the Classroom by Joe Fusaro



Photo: Lygia Clark in her studio working on Arquitetura biológica II (Biologic architecture II). Cité internationale des arts, Paris, 1969. Photo credit: Alécio de Andrade. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundo de Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro

The Brazilian artist Lygia Clark (1920-1988) encouraged the formation of art objects to enhance physical encounters and social communication. Her legacy offers significant contributions to art therapy, arts and health and socially engaged art. In essence her psychoanalytic explorations were re-produced within artworks that became animate through physical manipulation by others. Her psychological interests were aimed at dissolving both personal and social boundaries. Through sensory engagement and embodied interactions, Clark created experiences that brought bodies and minds together in unique ways. She choreographed relationships between strangers, who came in contact with each other through propositions for movement that directed the possibilities of working with collaborative materials. Clark produced relational objects to be inhabited, and to use as a means of communicating beyond language.


Photo: Lygia Clark’s proposition Rede de elásticos (Elastic net), 1974. Shown in use, in Paris, in 1974. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundo de Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro.


Photo: Lygia Clark’s proposition Camisa de força (Straitjacket), 1969. Shown in use, probably in Paris, in 1969. Courtesy Associação Cultural “O Mundode Lygia Clark,” Rio de Janeiro.

We transport ourselves into the happening of Clark’s art in order to unfold our inhibitions. Her artworks unleash a desire to expand, to enter into a communion with others as a kind of collective release. She exposes an archetypal unconscious that seeks exposure, contact, and performance. We are not meant to view Lygia Clark’s artworks as objects, but as routes into our own subjectivity. Clark’s kinetic sculptures beckon ritual readjustment, a chance to impose sensation and to create our own experience. She offers us an opportunity to make more of ourselves, by giving us a chance to reveal and to occupy public space in a fuller way. Rather than inhabiting limitation, her propositions extend us outwards. As a consequence we connect with additional dynamics of our personal and social environments. Clark invites us to extend our identities and physicality into new dimensions as an antidote to repression. As a result we become not the spectator, but the spectacle that brings people together.


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Photos: Art Therapy Constructions as Movement Duets Inspired by Lygia Clark


1. The World of Lygia Clark

2. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1948–1988
May 10–August 24, 2014

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Photo: The Parangolé, 

Irish Museum of Modern Art , Hélio Oiticica: Propositions  

Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica’s (1937-1980) contribution to physical performance was enfolded within the dimensions of the parangolés  he produced as wearable sculptures. The parangolés  were inhabited as a dwelling space for physical exploration and expression. The complex fabric dimensions of these tent like constructions embodied architectural spaces. The fabric also had associations to homelessness and the nomadic carrying of one’s own belongings. Foremost, the wearer entered into an experience which performed new sensations regarding one’s physical positioning within public space.

The parangolés supported non-conformist bodily actions. They were intended as political interventions within the social context of a military dictatorship in Brazil. The purpose of these cape like structures was immediacy during a historical period of constriction. Rather than behaviour within boundaries Oiticica proposed the wearer of the parangolé to exert an influence upon surrounding social conditions. The anarchy of wearing unstructured layers of fabric could be considered a camouflage, but also a banner. The parangolé experience was an intimate experiment, aimed at finding new routes of social movement within limiting political circumstances.

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Photos: A Forest Art Therapy Studio, Investigations of Movement

The consideration of fabric being worn as a supportive frame for physical disclosure and deterritorialization* is perhaps unusual within art therapy. The parangolé was not a costume, but a physical revelation. And still today it offers an inspiring example of how to interrogate physical presence. The wearer of the parangolé was both a celebrant and a dissident. Particularly evocative when worn outdoors, these draped dimensions of fabric facilitated movement patterns that were ambiguous and sculptural, punctuating public environments with sensory inquiry.

The choreographer, theoretician and dancer Rudolf Laban used the term living architecture to describe explorations of space and geometry through movement. By drawing the body through lines of travel, a mapping process occurs. These lines of investigation compose movement dimensions  – forward and backward, high and low, and diagonally across from side to side. Demarcating space with pathways and networks of geometry, facilitates not only the physical explorations of spatial possibilities, but also cognitive capacity. Embodying the full spectrum of environmental possibility stimulates both mind and body. By learning to move in more than one direction, the coordinates of how we travel through life are extended. We move into new places, new situations, new volumes and depths.

*Deterritorialization is a term developed by Deleuze and Guattari (Anti-Oedipus, 1972) to describe the transgression of subjectivity from its routine formations, into a state of becoming  (being in a state of flux, in process, in transition). It also refers to political and social movements, and society undergoing disruption and change.


Hands On

October 25, 2015

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IMG_1657_2 IMG_1658_2 Hand in hand, a duet of movement and an improvised collaboration prior to marking impressions upon paper. The beginning of art therapy as physical contact between service users with physical disabilities and their carers. The emphasis is upon co-creation and expressive impulses that are not pre-determined, but rather spontaneous occasions of connection. Hands that explore, caress, and evoke a silent companionship between two people who usually know each other ‘professionally’.

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A hands-on relationship that extends range and dimensions of communication, when words are not the primary means of conversation. The evocation of identities that examine each other through a range of shapes and effort qualities. The photographs along with the artworks are displayed as a way to highlight moving moments. Bringing together the sensations and fascination of touch, moving together, coming apart, and holding as experiences that allow two people to get to know each other differently. Particularly moving dimensions of relationship and coordinates possible within close proximity. The resulting documentation of the improvised hand dances are exhibited as a starting point for the next collaboration between staff and service users. The intimacy of each encounter, and the artistry of each moment is welcomed within the schedules and duties of care.




Photo: Human Writes, William Forsythe, performance to commemorate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“Our work is about moving between positions and passing through positions, not maintaining positions” (Dance Geometry, A Conversation with William Forsythe,


Photo: Lectures from Improvisation Technologies by William Forsythe 2011,

Art therapy activates the movement of spatial dimensions, marking out both familiar and new planes of existence. As a potential choreographic enterprise, art therapy draws us into movements which open up perspective. Each artwork is a new situation, an arrangement of subjectivity that is both familiar and recently acquired. The physical act of art making relates to extensions and crossing boundaries into additional planes of reference.


Photo: Artwork by Peter Welz in Collaboration with William Forsythe, 2005

The dimensions of artworks can be inhabited as kinesthetic journeys, stimulating physical and mental configurations. An artwork can be a choreographic reference, a stimulus that potentially enlarges our physical and mental proportions. Art beckons not only as an object but as a research tool, that can re-route both body and mind into unfamiliar experiences. It is the confidence to examine and inhabit the unfamiliar that often acts as a remedy for fixation. To act out is to animate and recover from predictability and containment. The risk taking in art therapy can relate to simultaneously moving in more than one direction. Combining known perspectives with difference, and learning to understand the artwork as a choreographic object, invites new forms of thinking that are physically generated.



Photo: Dance Drawing and Wire Sculpted in Movement Based Art Therapy

“A choreographic object, or score, is by nature open to a full palette of phenomenological instigations because it acknowledges the body as wholly designed to persistently read every signal from its environment” (Choreographic Objects by William Forsythe,

The influence of artworks as stimuli for movement motifs can be understood as a call for attention. The ability of an artwork to transfigure orientations in both mind and body, can be a therapeutic asset. The possibility of displacement, of transforming established ways of conduct within the world at large, is therapeutically beneficial. This is often at the heart of therapeutic release, the call to go beyond restrictions and to experiment with dynamic changes in action.


Photo: Self-Directed Movement Studies

Moving Dimensions of Art Therapy

1. The inclusion of physical thinking within art therapy involves kinesthetic responses, giving space for physical animation as thoughts and sensations appear.

2. Therapeutic choreography animated by processes of art making may create new dimensions of identity.

3. Art therapy environments collaboratively composed (in conjunction with service users), should be open to transformation increasingly incorporating new materials, ideas and physical arrangements.

4. Taking risks can relate to experiments with space, where artworks inhabit the environment as forms that trace out physical paths and their corresponding sensations.


Photo: Tape Drawing, Diagram for Movement Produced in Art Therapy

“Choreographers are composers; subjects are continually reiterated and played in another key…In choreography, there’s all kinds of motion going on, countless levels of kinetic juxtaposition, many beyond the immediate, visible sphere of dancing…the effect of ideas in motion” (William Forsythe: Artists in Conversation by Gabrielle de Ferrari,

William Forsythe (New York, 1949) originally trained as a ballet dancer and became the director of Ballet Frankfurt from 1984-2004. He later founded the internationally renowned Forsythe Company, where his choreography involved the visual arts, architecture, the moving image, written and spoken words. Starting in 2015 Forsythe will begin teaching at the University of Southern California and join the Pais Opera Ballet as an associate choreographer. 



Photo: Asheville Butoh Dance Theatre

Illustration: Merce Cunningham, Space Plan for Dance

Choreograph (v.): to arrange relations between bodies
in time and space
Choreography (v.): act of framing relations between bodies;
“a way of seeing the world”
Choreography (n.): result of any of these actions
Choreography (n.): a dynamic constellation of any kind,
consciously created or not, self-organising or super-imposed
Choreography (n.): order observed . . ., exchange of forces;
a process that has an observable or observed embodied order
Choreograph (v.): to recognize such an order
Choreography (v.): act of interfering with or negotiating
such an order

(Book of Recommendations, A Manifesto on Choreography by Michael Klien, Steve Valk and Jeffrey Gormly

Michael Klien was the artistic director of Daghdha Dance Company in Limerick from 2003-2011.  In 2012 he became the founder of the Institute of Social Choreography in Frankfurt. Klien proposes that the aesthetics of social change can be achieved through choreography as a catalyst for actions that re-negotiate communication through states of embodiment. Making contact with others, and our surroundings, through active physicality re-orders perspective and context. Through interrogating social structures that regulate physical and psychological states of being, desire can be released through choreography as a form of inter-personal and environmental re-adjustment.

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Photo: Perfect Flat Circle, Katrina Brown

Art therapy can draw upon the ideas of social choreography as a way to infuse the desiring body into therapeutic space. The social relations of psychotherapy must not only be talked about (or drawn out), but also be re-sculpted through the ways in which space is occupied and dynamically lived. The aim is to infuse movement with affect, thought and sensation.

Activating art therapy within the thresholds of physical experience is letting go of art therapy’s propensity towards order and containment. The dynamics of change are an essential aesthetic component of art therapy practice, and reside within the illustrations of movement as they manifest between therapeutic participants and art media. Art therapy evokes an ecology of circumstances, situations within which to explore movement inwards and outwards into the exteriors of personal and shared space. It is this combination, and the urge to process experience, that makes art therapy a somatic performance that marks out mobile forces of representation. The body is the living artwork, and imprints materials with surges of evocation that might be marks on paper, but equally can be made into sculptural forms that inhabit the art therapy studio. Ultimately, this instinctive choreography may result in redesigning the art therapy space through movement patterns that mark out paths of what Klien terms “ungovernable moments.”

All choreographies are the outcome of lengthy periods of research, so-called Field Studies. They are rigorous, poetic artefacts that aspire to engage ‘the unkown’, observational and reflective realms offered to the audience to sense reality beyond rationality and purpose….They change and grow whenever performed or situated; they are cradles of relations—‘organisms’—interacting with the world, affecting and being affected. (Michael Klien,


Michael Klien,

Book of Recommendations: Choreography as an Aesthetics of Change by Michael Klien, Steve Valk and Jeffrey Gormly on

Sensingsite: Materialities of Landscape and Place


Why is dance important to art therapy? Dance represents flexibility and flux, a deviation from language and fixed terms of reference. The body moves desire in a visible and amplified way. The dancer’s body invites us to imagine new positions and new courses of action. The dancer and witness are immersed together in a collaborative relationship. They move each other along and disseminate the nature of what is ephemeral. Ultimately this is about the unfixed nature of meaning and representation. The body in motion is an essential part of art therapy, and it is the primary material of art making. Space can be sculpted and animated with effort qualities that choreograph intention and direct action. To observe the physicality of art therapy is to pay close attention to the way the body moves within a given environment. Somatic reckoning permeates art therapy space, it is an inherent element of creative production.


A performance at the Dublin Dance Festival called Bodies in Urban Spaces showcased a form of physical sculpture that offers a new perspective on ways to inhabit urban streetscapes. Choreographed by Austrian based dance artist Willi Dorner,  it involves a group of dancers reshaping city footpaths and architectural locations. The ‘audience’ follows the dancers through a journey of embodiment. Collectively new areas of experience are discovered, as each person (both dancer and onlooker) insert themselves into urban territories in a mutually evocative way.

These places are part of our everyday experience, so instead of having to go somewhere removed from daily life to see dance, I think it can have quite an impact for dance to transform everyday landscapes (Rionach Ni Neill, Galway Dancer in Residence, Ireland).


For art therapy Bodies in Urban Spaces re-imagines our own field of expression to include physical performance and architectural design. Such a performance takes art therapists outside themselves, it invites the witnessing of kinesthetic reasoning as it moves through the built environment. The relevance to art therapy is how an individual sculpts space physically, the environment impacts the body and expression, and it collaborates within the art therapy process. Being able to relate to context, rather than art materials laid out on a table, is a vital goal for the art therapy participant seeking to go beyond limiting frames of reference.



All Photos, Bodies in Urban Dance Spaces, Dublin Dance Festival


Mary Kate Connolly, “Dancing Beyond Words” Booklet produced by Dance Ireland.

Michael Seaver, “Smart Move: Dance Gets Intellectual in Galway,” The Irish Times, Wednesday, March 26, 2014.