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Every something is an echo of nothing

Presentation of a video

Every something is an echo of nothing[1]

It’s definitely something, though we don’t quite know what it is. We need to investigate. Familiar enough, but also foreign. It’s concrete. Someone walks, stops, looks. Simultaneously, it contains energy as if supported by something that can barely be sensed. Yet it’s also anchored into the floor, the ceiling, the walls. Between the ears, beneath the chest. In the heart.

What is required in order for us to start something new without having any information of where it leads us?

This video is a collage of some moments which were experienced and captured during six weeks’ process titled Every something is an echo of nothing – artistic-pedagogical event 1. The core of the work is to observe how can a performance be a place for learning about performance making trough the repetition of simple social and performative exercises. In addition to the intensive groupwork Every something is an echo of nothing consisted 21 open sessions/performances with audience, where they could also participate. The actions and compositions in the video are fully improvisational. The structures of the practice and combination of supportive practices and theories are a result of an ongoing evolution that has started in 2008 as a part of the development of practical performance studies in dance pedagogy and theatre pedagogy programmes.

The starting point of this work is a very simple exercise. People sit in the audience. If someone feels so, one can step on stage, do something or nothing and come back to a seat whenever. In this practice every moment is a performance and so also a possibility to observe, reflect and learn about it. Usually in practice sessions we had a cumulative structure of four parts. Phases five and six were dedicated to reflection on what happened.

1.Observing. We will sit in the empty space in silence.

2. Observing and being. You can still observe, and now you can also respond to your own impulses by entering the space and selecting a posture and position. You can decide how long you want to stay, and then you can change your position or go back to a seat.

3. Observing, being, and doing. You can observe, you can be, and now you can also respond to your own impulses by acting/doing something. You can decide how long you want to stay and then go back to a seat.

4. Observing, being, doing, and suggesting. You can do anything from the previous phases, and now you can also offer your impulse to another participant. The suggestion is given to somebody who is in a seat. If you get a suggestion, you can interpret the suggestion how you like and choose whether to do it or not. If you start to act by following the suggestion, you can stop whenever and come back to a seat.

5. Observing. We will sit in the empty space in silence.

6. Reflection: Write about what is in your mind at this moment? You don’t have to share your writing.

The durations of parts were changing during the process, but always very precisely fixed beforehand. The whole thing happened in Theatre Academy’s studio 3, a black box equipped with controllable theatre light setting and pedagogical live musician/dj.

When practicing this Performance based pedagogy, there should not be any kind of force to produce something special or impressive. An empty stage and time passing are always a good option.

Group: Mercedes Balarezo, Jenni Bergius, Gabriele Goria, Maiju Heikkinen, Noora Karjalainen, Tero Kaunisvuo, Eevamari Kitti, Esko Korpelainen, Maia Nowack, Ville Nylen, Johanna Perttunen, Gesa Piper, Riku Saastamoinen

This work is part of Riku Saastamoinen’s doctoral artistic research at the Performing Arts Research Center titled Performance based pedagogy, starting points, practices and discipline.

Camera: Jyrki Oksaharju, Riku Saastamoinen

Sound: Tero Kaunisvuo

Editing: Riku Saastamoinen

Video is available for watching till 14.5.

[1]The name of the event is a quote from John Cage’s Lecture on something, that is published in book: Cage. J. (1968). Silence, Lectures and writings. London: Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd.


Pedapproach on teatteri- ja tanssinopettajan maisteriopiskelijoiden 4.-8.5. järjestämä seminaari, joka kokoaa opiskelijoiden ajattelua ja opinnoissa tutkittuja taiteellis-pedagogisia kysymyksiä ja aiheita. Tutustu seminaariin ja sen teemoihin opiskelijoiden päivittämässä blogissa.

Pedapproach is a seminar organised by theatre and dance pedagogy students in 4-8 May that gathers the artistic-pedagogical questions and topics that students have explored during their studies. Learn more about the seminar in the students’ blog. Updates are in Finnish or English.

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