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Choreographic Theatre

Definition & Instructions Manual

Enrique Pardo

    • Above the Gate of Hell, Dante placed this motto: “Abandon all hope, you who enter here”. It is important to know that there is another entrance, a discreet side door to the Underworld: The Artists' Entrance. Its motto says: “To enter here, you must roll on the ground and scream.”

    • This reminds us of the Bardo bottleneck in Buddhist Tantrism (the cervix of the womb). An initiatory passage ruled by demons (the Bardo) who determine the fate (and cry) of the newborn.

    • The training thus starts with expressive catharsis. There, I am indebted to Roy Hart for his philosophy of vocal expression. I was a young visual artist, reserved (and likely snob.) With Hart, I started acting (out).

    • At stake: how to give body (and voice) to fiction, how to move physically into image, harvest emotion and deploy “a rain of metaphors”. Here I am indebted to James Hillman.

    • There is a cherry on this cake: the TEXT work, set-up in a non-illustrative musical and choreographic CON-TEXT. This is complex, but not necessarily complicated.

    • I understand choreography especially in terms of “making a move”: an esthetic AND ethical initiative, enacted.


    A recent definition March 2024

    “ I see Choreographic Theatre today as based primarily on ethical values in terms of the quality of ‘making a gesture’ (more than “making a move” in a social-choral context). Recent example: in the Chilean outback, we drive into a small village and suddenly, only yards away, a very sturdy Mapuche woman is bashing a young man, knuckle punches to the face and skull! Our driver, a friend kinesiologist, slows right down and parks just beyond them. “This might dismantle the violence.” It does. The young man manages to say to the woman: “Everyone is noticing us...” This is what I call a gesture. Timely, adequate and ethical (and with a superb text to finish!)


Choreographic Theatre was developed by Enrique Pardo - it is the label that best reflects the complexity of his work - related to, but distinct, from contemporary currents like dance theatre, physical and corporal theatre, image theatre, non-narrative theatre, performance art, etc.

Enrique's proposals offer one of today's most demanding synthesis in the inclusion not only of movement, dance, music, voice and singing, but especially of spoken TEXT - which has been excluded by too many contemporary performers whose work has become excluvely visual and musical pageants.

In his view, language is humanity's greatest conquest, and yet, like much of contemporary performance, he also reacted against the "classical" theatre model with its excessive dependance on acting rethorics, talk, dialogue and the need for linear narrative. His work offers both philosophical and technical tools to confront this dilema so that each artist can find his or her voice and performantive eloquence.

Enrique collaborates with artists from very different backgrounds, ages and esthetics - each bringing his or her own contribution to the work. This is especially the case regarding dance and movement styles. He favoured working with choreographers and dancers, sharing their corporal dream-like dramaturgies and their non-narrative sense of composition. But he also questioned dance's silence and its links with singing and music.



Choreographic Theatre :
Look with your ears,
Listen with your eyes, and...
Dissassociate those toes !     EP

Pierre-François Blanchard (toes)

Photo Didier Monge



see also




LABORATORIO : Choreographic Theatre & Alchemy


Some quotations on Choreographic Theatre

The training is sometimes described as "playing the piano with three hands", since it involves parallel work on movement, language and voice, their interconnections and, especially, their disassociations. Not cool chance collage work, but synthesis, involving actor and person. It explores fully the training and poetics of contemporary dance-theatre."

Voice and language become poetic partners to visual images. The body is caught in complex dream-images, while the voice harvests and expresses the emotion.

"Enrique Pardo's approach to physical theatre explodes the interpretation of texts by stretching them into choreographic networks: language becomes a poetic partner to image, and no longer its sovereign. Illustration yields to paradox. Texts unfold new versions, including subversions and perversions. The body is caught in complex images, while the voice harvests and expresses the emotion."

"Choreographic theatre includes language through a relentless fight against textual tyranny, in order to avert the kind of domination that binds theatre to declamation, illustration, demonstration. The aim is a dance of ideas, a dance of text and context - "choreographic" in this sense: the body, caught in complex images, the voice harvesting and expressing emotion."

Choreographic Theatre brings together text, voice and physical theatre. While based on exacting group-composition disciplines, it promotes personal expressivity - especially vocal. Previous dance experience is not essential, but one must be prepared to move, make moves and be moved.