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Carolyn Deby

Research Summary

My practice-led research articulates a phenomenological, embodied theatre of human life in cities as: ontologically organic and wild; ecologically / socially / technologically networked; and shaped within a time-space field of affects, meaning and sensory inputs. I am interested in revealing the urban as a place of wild nature, of animal and elemental movement. Equally, I’m interested in urban space as social space and as technologically reconstructed nature: a field of interlinking systems and energies that shape our lived experience. Both human and non-human ‘actors’ are significant, as is the inter-mingling of both cognized (perhaps verbal) and extra-linguistic or nonconscious inputs.

My practice articulates a bodily expression of human urban flows in relation to energetic patterns, effort, memory and perception, physicality, habitual patterns of being, emotional states and personal narratives. I hope to map the ontology of, and patterns of interaction between: human lives, social settings, observed systems of nature, and existent urban flows and energetic states.

CURRENT PROJECT: rivercities

rivercities considers flows between humans and nature — especially at multiple points of convergence between urban and wild. Rivers form one aspect of the continuous circulation of Earth’s water — from glaciers, rivers, oceans, clouds, groundwater, and through the cells/circulation systems of living things. Rivers are literally flowing through us.

The project examines in parallel the circulation and flow systems of the city, and those of the humans in the city – and considers the interacting and reciprocal flows between these. Scientific, kinetic, and poetic ideas have equal importance.

Professional and Academic Background

I am an artist/choreographer who creates site-based performance work internationally under the name sirenscrossing – examining the lived experience of humans in cities — situating the human body/psyche within landscape. My work has been presented in Canada, UK, and Sweden.

A graduate of Simon Fraser University’s BFA Dance programme in Vancouver, Canada, I have lectured extensively on my own performance practice, as well as teaching Professional Studies, Choreography, Research, and Site Specific Performance (London Contemporary Dance School, Trinity Laban, University of East London, Queen Mary University, Dartington College, Warwick University, Birkbeck College, University of Chichester, and internationally).

During 2011/12, I was artist-in-residence at University College London’s Urban Laboratory where I collaborated with academics across several disciplines – in particular with Urban Geographer, Prof Matthew Gandy. The residency had several performance outcomes, most notably thecityandthecityandthecity mbOdied in January 2012. My recent work includes: #urbanflowevent (rivercities) – London (2014-15); and rivercities//dry – Trollhättan, Sweden (2013).

I have been funded by: Arts Council England; the Leverhulme Trust; Canada Council for the Arts; London Arts Board; Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad; Swedish National Arts Council (Konstnärsnämnden); Western Swedish Region (Västra Götalandsregionen); KLEO (European Union); Jerwood Foundation; Performing Arts Lab (PAL); the cities of Vancouver, Göteborg, and Trollättan; Dance Centre (Vancouver); Chisenhale Dance Space; Trinity Laban; N3 Culture School (Trollättan); Producentbyrån (Göteborg); Danscentrum Väst (Göteborg); Thames21; Canal & River Trust; Springboard Performance (Calgary); Argent St George; King’s Cross Partnership; Excel; Camden Council; British Waterways; London Continental Railways; Goldmark Publishing.

My work has been commissioned and/or produced by: Fallens Dagar Festival (Trollhättan); Producentbyrån (Göteborg); Dance Centre (Vancouver); Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad; UCL Urban Laboratory; Dancing on the Edge (Vancouver); The Place (London); Chisenhale Dance Space; Trinity Laban; Royal Festival Hall; Wapping Project; Stoke Newington Festival.

sirenscrossing is featured in a new Routledge book Moving Sites: Investigating Site-Specific Dance Performance (Victoria Hunter, Ed). A chapter by Dr Fiona Wilkie (Roehampton University) discusses Carolyn Deby / sirenscrossing, and Stephen Hodge / Wrights & Sites.

Research Interests

Phenomonology and embodied experience

Psychogeographic approaches to the urban

Interdisciplinary performance practices

Urban metabolism; the city as reconstituted nature

Affect Theory and the Everyday

Performance and place (site-specific performance)

Nature – Ecology – the Wild

Practice as research

Carolyn Deby