Welcome to Dr. Johan Stjernholm’s blog on choreography

Dr. Johan Stjernholm at RAD

Picture: Dr. Johan Stjernholm at the RAD

The purpose of this blog is to discuss and trace choreographic processes, work practices, and perceptions of dance and movement.

As a reader, please feel free to contribute with comments and to ask questions. I hope that we will be able to engage in a stimulating, creative, and inspiring exchange of thoughts and ideas.

First, I wanted to give you some information about me, Dr. Johan Stjernholm, as the author of this blog. I am a choreographer and dancer, and my primary work locations are in London and Beijing.

In London, I work as a Lecturer in Choreography and Performance at the Royal Academy of Dance. I am also the Artistic Director for a small, experimental, and collaborative dance company called SpaceEngineering. In Beijing, I choreograph for the Tian Yuan Dance Project, which is started by Flora Zeta Cheong-Leen, Founder of CISCA.

In terms of Higher Education, I have a PhD in Dance, with a specialisation on notions of creativity, embodiment, and perception of dance. I also graduated from the Laban dance conservatory in London with an MA in European Dance Theatre Practice, prior to which I completed a BA (Hons.) in Dance Theatre.

My choreographic practice is rooted in two rather disparate traditions: European Dance Theatre and conceptual, postmodern American dance. The influence of European Dance Theatre in my work is not only because of my educational background from Laban, but even more so due to the fact that I for many years have worked closely together with Dr. Valerie Preston-Dunlop, one of the leading authorities on Rudolf Laban’s practices and concepts.

Another major source of influence on my work is the acclaimed, UK based choreographer Rosemary Butcher, who in the early 1970s was part of the Judson Dance Theatre in New York. For years, Rosemary and I have had an on-going and fascinating discussion on notions of creativity and exchange of choreographic ideas. Hence, she has greatly contributed to increase my practical understanding of what often is referred to in critical terms as ‘minimalist’ or conceptual dance.

Lastly, I would like to highlight the important influence that my former PhD supervisor, Professor Helen Thomas, has had on my practice. She assisted me in the development of methods and frameworks that intimately integrate practice and theory. I came to understand that the concept of ‘practice’ can be a form of critical knowledge, or a mode of thinking, just as much as that which we call ‘theory’.