Sara Grotenfelt

About Sara Grotenfelt

Curious dance and choreography student at The Danish National School of Performing Arts navigating in the world of wondering, creating and doing. Has her roots in Finland and enjoys swimming in lakes. Interested in choreography in all it's forms and shapes. Likes the terms pedestrian, onomatopoetic and queasy. Dislikes the terms authentic, negative space and Yes- hat.

Practising sharing – notes of a process

IMG_2667I started my studies at DDSKS six months ago and realized after a short while that I was no longer interested in moving. The questions of philosophy, understanding of performativity and conceptual thinking had taken over. The curiosity for information outside of my own container had seduced me, and I neglected my body.

Meanwhile I was starting to develop a choreographic practise. As I abandoned the body I directed my interest towards space, memory and relation. I narrowed down these abstract and extremely wide concepts in different ways and through different try-outs, and I started to find ways to address them.  I understood after a while that for me there is no other way to execute my investigation than through the body. I realized that instead of trying to grasp all the information that is ‘out there’ and that I don’t yet have, I need to address my biggest source of information: the lexicon of my body.

A choreographic process on paper is kind of a paradox. My current investigation has mainly taken place through writing, reading and conversation, i.e. language. As my interest in the moving body is coming back, it is time to start addressing the actual potential of performance art, that is something beyond language. It is after all the body through which a choreographic work has to reveal itself. (Well, this can be discussed of course.)

Before I go back to the studio and start moving again I want to practise sharing. I share my notes on my space investigation, not because they are complete or particularly insightful, but because they show extracts from an ongoing choreographic research process in a beginner’s head. As relations, sharing and hidden mechanisms are central in my investigation, sharing my notes is an important part of it. Through this post I open my practise to others and hope to give and receive information and inspiration.



Research question: How do space and memory effect performativity?


Bringing spaces into other spaces by moving in specific patterns and verbalizing associations, from the near or further past, that are triggered by the space where performing.


Lab 1


Defining the research question

Pt. 1: Asking the audience to take a look at the space, close their eyes and tell me what they see. Reacting to their words by moving to or from whatever they say.

Pt. 2: Walking in a square that points out the shape of the space. Talking about what I remember when I see things in the space e.g. “ at my parents country house we had a video projector that blew hot air into the room…” Finishing by sitting with the audience and looking at the echo of what just happened in the space.

23.-29.11.2015 The House,  Århus

DSC_0181Lab 2


Experiencing a new environment and investigating how it effects my performativity. Documenting this on a Dictaphone and in writing. Painting a room with white paint to make it a “clean canvas” to work on.

Pt. 1: Walking in a room with a camera in my hand, filming from my own perspective. Drawing a line where I move to emphasize the shape and nature of the space. Following this with the camera. Talking about associations within this space, recording memories, old and new. Also related to Lab 1. Talking about the memory of the room. Leaving traces. Moving forwards, backwards, slow and fast.

Pt. 2: Doing the same in front of an audience (will be recorded). Following the traces from the past and making new traces with paint on my feet and hands. Sometimes blending with the audience and look at the echo in the room. Asking them to close their eyes, tell me what they remember, and react on that.

What to talk about: the history of this process, the memory of the house/room, other rooms in my life that relate to this room.



Lab 3, Experiment

Moving my interest from memories and associations (rooms in rooms) to the present moment (here and now) and our ways of sensing space. Sitting in darkness and saying out loud what I sense. Ask the other people what they sense. A discussion in darkness. Then I light a candle and we just sit there and sense.

What is the score here?

I’m talking about how I sense the space. Concrete things. Physical things.

What words to use?

‘There is’… this and that.

‘What else is there?’


To find out how not being able to see effects our perception of a space and to investigate how others interpret ‘what is there’. The memory is of course present here as well.  Is it about imagination and perception? Playing with it?


I got feedback from Agi that helped me to see my experiment from another angle.

Making a ‘dramaturgy’ in the mentioning of existing things –> first more concrete (what we can sense with out basic senses, sounds, smells, physical feeling) then atmospheres and more abstract things in the space (expectations, tension, boredom etc.),  then include all the space that surrounds this space –> go out of this space. Where shall it lead?


M. addressed my experiment in her research lab. Her focus was participation and she made a remark that in my piece the audience was forced to participate because every sound or movement they made might be included in the performance. This is something I didn’t think of before. I agree to a certain extent but have to point out that the audience is a part of the space and they have agreed to be that by coming there. Also my intention was precisely to impersonalize the space so that everything is an equal part of it. This brings me to the question of public/ shared space and its inequality.

I’m fascinated by power relations, which 7 pleasures by Mette Ingvartsen made me reflect on. In the beginning the performers formed an equal mass, an organic symbiosis, which was beautiful and non-human. Towards the end, when the aspect of fetishism and violence came along, the organic interaction turned into human relation, and more precisely, power relation. These relations in the context of a performing situation are what I want to investigate further. The relation between audience and performer in a space together. Where does the power lie?


Towards collaboration.

Me and A. have started a project together very related to my previous investigation. We both have specific interest inside the ‘space’- theme and we are slowly finding our way into collaborating. In addition to space and time, objects have been included as a topic. It is not simple questions we are dealing with and we have found out that we should try to address them in a simple and concrete way, by making improvisational scores that give us a clear task:


Place yourself in the space. Close your eyes. The other one surrounds you with objects. Start examining the objects with eyes closed. Feel them and investigate them. Name them one by one as something else that they actually are.

This is the only way we can bring the abstract concepts from flying around in the air towards something that could be called a performance.

To be continued.