About The Bodystorming System
The Bodystorming System (Bodystorming) is one of the fundamental tools that BLM has used in our decade long collaboration with David Odde and his biomedical engineering lab. Bodystorming aims to reframe how we interact with scientific concepts and to promote physical learning environments, among many other things.
Using choreographic techniques, the Bodystorming method provides scientists with a new, highly flexible modeling system to inform and support their research that complements more traditional software-based methods.
“The program builds awareness of science
using dance as a tool for communication and investigation.”
Aparna Banerjee, head of the science
and society department at National Center
of Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, India.
BLM’s Bodystorming System (Bodystorming) -Brainstorming with Bodies- began in 2009 as a part of the University of Minnesota’s Moving Cell Project that brought dance artists and scientists together to “rapid prototype” research hypotheses in biomedical engineering.
“Collaborations between these seemingly odd
bedfellows can lead to truly path-breaking research and
new perspectives on well-worn pathways,”
Carl Flink, BLM Artistic Director
& Co-Founder Moving Cell Project
In a laboratory, dance studio or open green space, bodystormers learn specific movement instructions designed to replicate the theoretical activities of molecules within a living cell. Using basic choreographic techniques, the method provides scientists with a new, highly flexible modeling system to inform and support their research that complements more traditional software-based methods.
“There is a kind of fundamental beauty to dynamical systems -
their sometimes deceptive order - and their
unexpected diversions from intuition.”
Unknown Author from Bengaluru,
The benefits of Bodystorming’s embodied experiments are numerous. The rapid modeling bodystorming allows does not require the time-consuming development of computer simulations. It supports collaborative research in which each bodystormer can contribute their observations and experiences within a bodystorm to impact and inform the evolution and understanding of the resulting data. In parallel, bodystorming provides dance makers with unique improvisatory tools for developing and organizing movement in space.
“The cell is a violent place, where molecules are moving at hundreds of kilometers
per hour. Working with dancers allows us to recreate opposing aspects
– dynamics and order – in a creative and safe manner.”
David Odde, University of Minnesota
Biomedical Engineering Professor
& Co-Founder Moving Cell Project
Bodystorming System illustrates that BLM’s choreographic and improvisatory dance approaches can powerfully describe and simulate often chaotic and random biological systems found within the human body. The immediacy and relevance of this body-centered, problem-solving method, primarily focused on cancer research, have also been successfully applied to patient advocacy and learning, K-12 science curriculum, animal behavioral studies, architectural design, and turbulent (turbulence?) in water systems, in addition to many biomedical applications. Future applications could be in urban planning, architecture and conflict resolution.
“A supreme example of how new knowledge gets built within the arts, sciences,
and the academic world… taking their processes of discovery, as well as the
outcomes, into various public domains, [to] help us see radical possibilities.”
Liz Lerman, Choreographer
& Arizona State University Institute Professor
“We say — from behind podiums and during speeches — about how we try to think about things in fresh
ways in order to solve problems and that’s how we serve,” said Gabel. “It’s one thing to say that and it’s
another thing to see something like this.” … “Applied genius.”
Joan Gabel, President
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Everyone can participate in a Bodystorming session, whether as a direct participant or outside observer. Scientists and movers bring their expertise and individual perspectives to the discussions while honoring their felt experiences as the experiment unfolds.
As a collective of empowered and informed individuals, Bodystorming sessions are made stronger through collective experience and encourage information lensed through multiple intelligences (physical, conversational, observational, emotional, sensorial) without privileging any one over another.
The speed at which experiments can be proposed and embodied, leads to the ability to adjust and change course quickly and test out many variations without the time-consuming nature of computer-programming preparations.
It can feel like a game! Bodystorming encourages participants to engage each other mentally, physically and emotionally as they learn how to embody together different systems driven by motion.
Plain Language & Communication Skills
Bodystorming fosters clear language, free of jargon, so that all bodystormers fully understand the material and parameters of each experiment. Great for shared learning environments and adaptable to different learning styles and ways of knowing.
Embodiment & Intuition
The entire body is central to this process. The Bodystorming System engages the full spectrum of human senses and ways of knowing, understanding, and experiencing the world.
“Black Label Movement causes one to lose their breath
with surprise and athletic excitement as [Flink] weaves
crucial sociopolitical-scientific content in with ease.”
David Dorfman, Choreographer
& Connecticut College Professor of Dance
BLM has also worked with many young students at schools to physicalize the curriculum they were currently learning in their science class.
The benefits of Bodystorming’s embodied experiments are numerous. The rapid modeling it allows does not require the time-consuming development of computer simulations. It supports collaborative research in which each bodystormer can contribute their observations and experiences within a bodystorm to impact and inform the evolution and understanding of the resulting data. In parallel, bodystorming provides dance makers with unique improvisatory tools for developing and organizing movement in space.
Why read about gravity when you can fall and experience it?