Sebastian Matthias is currently working towards a PhD in cultural studies and choreography at the artistic-academic postgraduate programme “Assemblies and Participation: Urban Publics and Performance“ at HafenCityUniversity in Hamburg. The artistic research practice within his dance projects form the base of his academic studies and his thesis on “Experienced Groove – A Mode of Perception of Dance as Group Phenomenon“. His academic research feeds back into the rehearsal process and forms a theoretical background for his artistic work.

Experienced Groove – A Mode of Perception of Dance as Group Phenomenon

Music and Club culture can be understood as a structural counterpart when analyzing the metropolis as actualized politics. Following Diedrich Diederichsen the immanence of groove (in contrast to urban atmospheres) relates to the encapsulating of subcultural and psychological social spaces, into a community, and points to its evolved delicateness, tenacity and differentiation.

As part of a pop music culture groove reveals the socialization of the inner sphere, but at the same time presents its private intimate antidote. When searching for the development of assembly practices in the civil society of western democracies, it seems evident that the dynamic group processes of electronic dance music cultures need to be analyzed further. At the same time the emotional and physical arousal in a club night that emerges from its participants could point to a differentiated perspective on dance as a performative act. Hence, the term groove is able to relate choreography to urban publics for artistic research.

When groove is constituted between its social, physical, musical and emotional aspects, the dancers find themselves in a physically amplified state that has a certain pleasurable “feel”. This feeling can also be seen as a measure of the quality of the beat, the DJ set or the club night as a whole. The dancer experiences “groove” in the balancing act of its constituting elements through specific sensations in the body that can act as a relative kinaesthetic norm. From a dance perspective groove seems to be a group phenomenon, a social swarm, that aims at a private inner experience while being dependent on a group of individuals from which it emerges.

Movement qualities as part of my artistic choreographic practice can enable transdisciplinary research on groove and its mechanisms of transmission and participation. The limits of active participation in dance performance will be analysed through artistic practice and theoretical analysis. In relation to an artistic formal, experimental, and performative setting I will aim to develop a theory of dance as a group phenomenon.


Experienced Groove: Profile Sebastian Matthias

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