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The Creative Gesture - Dramaturgy for Dance 2019

Movement and Meaning: Dramaturgy of Living Systems

Program Information

Dance programs at Banff Centre

Image credit: Mike Peters.

Program Overview

To make sense of a world saturated by complex flows of energy, information, randomness, chance, and change, the human brain has become extremely sensitive to patterns and their disruption. Dramaturgy works with perception and meaning, and can be thought of as a relational practice – a way of understanding and navigating the complexities of the creative process with awareness and care.

This two-week research workshop is part of The Creative Gesture dance program. Led by dramaturg and writer Ruth Little alongside acclaimed choreographer, writer, and educator Liz Lerman, the program will consider dance dramaturgy as an ecosocial practice based on intimate attention to the world and its processes. The workshop will explore the uses of practical, adaptable tools for generating mental, physical, and social movement.

What does the program offer?

Through immersive, embodied, and collaborative research involving faculty members, visiting artists, and the rich physical context of Banff Centre, this workshop will explore the role of dramaturgy as the fundamental craft underlying the creation, articulation, and interpretation of dance works. Participants will explore how dramaturgical thinking involves the application of embodied ecological and ethical insight, and the development of skills for enabling change and working with resistance in multiple contexts.

Topics include:

  • The structures of living systems
  • Chaos and complexity
  • Sensitivity to initial conditions
  • Scale
  • Resonant objects, vibrant matter
  • 'Stalking the image': tools for initiating and developing movement, including thinking grids, equivalents, movement metaphor, editing
  • Critical response
  • Extending the edge: subculture, permaculture, thresholding
  • Failing better: error, difficulty, imbalance
  • Context: place-based sensing and learning
  • The adjacent possible
  • Ambiguity
  • Hiking the horizontal: studio, social, and civic practice

Who should apply?

A wide range of professional artists – Canadian and international – who are interested in a deeper understanding of dramaturgy as a choreographic and social practice are encouraged to apply. We welcome artistic directors, choreographers, dancers, dance practitioners (teachers, rehearsal directors, etc.), dance writers, and professional artists in other mediums.

Please note: you may apply to more than one Creative Gesture program, however if accepted, you will only be able to participate in one program.

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What's Included

Single or Shared RoomRead MoreClose

When applying, choose between staying in a single or a shared bedroom on the Banff Centre campus for the duration of your program.

Get connected with other artists on campus and focus on your projects in a creative environment while we take care of the day-to-day essentials.

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Full Flex Meal PlanRead MoreClose

Using a credit-based system to dine on campus, our flexible meal plans allow you to select meals according to your own needs during your stay.

The Full Flex meal plan includes $38 credit per day, equivalent to breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Vistas Dining Room.

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Gym MembershipRead MoreClose

Your program fee includes free access to the swimming pool, climbing gym, and fitness suite as well as discounted rates for classes at the Sally Borden Fitness and Recreation Centre.

Paul D. Fleck Library and ArchivesRead MoreClose

Access a wide range of publications, books, music, and films in the Paul D. Fleck Library and Archives, open six days a week.

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Box Office DiscountsRead MoreClose

Enjoy special artist rates for ticketed performances or complimentary access to events.

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Participant ResourcesRead MoreClose

Enrich your experience and get to know other artists on campus by taking advantage of the activities and support provided by our Participant Resources team.

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Showcase Your workRead MoreClose

This program offers opportunities to showcase your work-in-progress.

Fees & Financial Assistance

Program Fee (Single Room)*
$2 364.66
Program Fee with Financial Aid (Single Room)
Program Fee (Shared Room)*
$1 961.32
Program Fee with Financial Aid (Shared Room)

Application fee: $65

*Financial Aid up to 100% of the program fee is provided

Help fund your experience at Banff Centre! View a compiled list of national and international opportunities here.

How to Apply

Learn more about the steps to Complete Your Application.

Personal Statement

A 500-word description of why you wish to attend this program, what you hope to learn, and what impact it could have on your artistic practice.


A one-page resume describing your professional training and experience, as well as other relevant experience.

Work Samples

Please upload three samples of your recent artistic work.


Participants are selected by impartial adjudicators on the basis of their submitted material. In addition to artistic merit, consideration will be given to the likelihood that the artist's work will benefit from the program. Applicants will be notified of their status as soon as adjudication is complete.



This program is open to dancers, choreographers and composers at any stage in their careers. Both Canadian and international artists are invited to apply.

Note: All programs, faculty, dates, fees, and offers of financial assistance are subject to change. Program fee is subject to applicable taxes. Non-refundable fees and deposits will be retained upon cancellation. Any other fees are refunded at the discretion of Banff Centre.

Contact Admissions

For questions on preparing your application, please contact Admissions:

Toll Free Number (Canada + USA)