You Have The Right To Remain Silent, A Dance Performance Research

Diana Bratu

To Cite this Article

Bratu, D. (2022). You Have The Right To Remain Silent, A Dance Performance Research. p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e, 6.


This work focuses on the notion of performative research understood as a creative and performative act in the same time producing knowledge. The research You Have The Right To Become Silent explores the means through which word appears to the stage (creative act), during a performative process (performance) that produces knowledge as a result of dance-thought different from language-thought. We will present here the protocole of this research started in 2015. We will discuss the main lines of the project situating its context and background, the scores, the development and the perspectives of the work.


Performative research, ethics and esthetics of silence, ecology of speech, listening, dance-thought, language-thought.


Laying down. Doing nothing. Breathing. Waiting. Breathing again. Getting up. Standing. Walking forward. Walking backward.


In our contemporary western societies communication is a strong virtue. Expressing ourselves is an essential condition of our individual and collective condition. In the human history the right of speech has been acquired through big sacrifices and fights. But today, in the Western part of the world, we witness an inflation of speech that becomes a social obligation misunderstood as a civic obligation. Michel Foucault underlines this requirement of speech as a way to express power and sustained by our social and institutional configurations. In this respect, the delicate, puny or silent beings, all those that do not use spoken language in order to express themselves seem suspect and are left behind. « Is there only image left from our existence ? », asks Michel De Certeau. 

Being silent is a political position. It is related to an ecology of the speech. This attitude displaces the focus from the quantity of speech to the intensity of nothingness (Masaki Iwana). Practicing silence makes ourselves present and available to seize nothingness and make it also perceptible to others. This is the key of our research in dance inspired by the work of the butoh dancer Masaki Iwana. 


The performance research project You Have The Right To Remain Silent started in 2015 and continues today. It includes a series of performances concerned with the ways through which the word comes to the stage. How can we make present what seems absent when we dont see it or hear it ?  

The creative process starts with silence: no movement, at least no intentional one. Only presence and availability. Being ready for whatever it may appear. Listening to the body and its surroundings. Breathing and waiting. Until something comes, a part of the body starts to move, it is moved. Then, little by little, it develops, the movement becomes word and it becomes dance: the invisual1 dance of our inner landscapes.  


(Vadori-Gauthier, 2014).  

This research observes the process through which dance comes into being and develops, as different from simple movement. It implies holding still, never giving up too easily to the noise production, to the simple movement. Thus, it explores the embodiment2 of histories present in the memory of the body, in its cels, atoms and DNA, and beneath, in the spiritual body. This research process is based on observation and listening to the strong connection between inside and outside the body. Choosing a very simple score (structure) makes it more easy for the dancer to focus on what is the most essential : the process and the spiritual body. Although, the same score (structure) can generate very different dances.  


By observing how dance comes to the stage this research explores and considers dance as a manner of thinking through body. From this point of view, we can then distinguish, with Eleanor Bauer, dance-thought as different from language-thought. The starting point of our research is the abandonment of spoken language which reduces, confuses or misrepresents dance-thought. By doing this, the research tries to identify structures of thinking that originate in dance rather than in language. This process that passes through body-thinking allows coming back to language afterward and generating speech, as a form of new poetics that does not have its resources in language-thought (Eleanor Bauer). For instance, it is the way in which we find a name for a dance in order to keep it in mind or record it on paper. 


As a creative research, You Have The Right To Remain Silent focuses on understanding something by doing: how the movement appears, what it can do, how it becomes a dance. The accent is not on the result. It is not about doing something in order to know how to do it, to reproduce it. Instead, the process is about doing in order to find out what the doing does, and moreover, how the movement practice thinks through the mover, but also through the watcher and through the situation itself. Thus the research practice, as a thinking practice, changes the practitioner, as well as the public, their sensation of themselves and their environment, their way of seeing, hearing, sensing, feeling, and thinking, as Eleanor Bauer puts it.  

Time and space

This thinking and observing posture acquires attention and listening. The reflexive attitude needs time in order to develop, and that implies a proper speed. It is not about slow speed, even if the result might appear through a slow process. It is about finding a proper way in which the movement appears and transforms during an organic becoming process. It is about producing time and space, instead of consuming them. 


This research situates the notion of performative research as a creative process realized in front of the audience and with the audience. The public is the necessary condition for the dance to appear. In this context the performative research is not only what precedes the performance : it constitutes the performance process itself. It produces knowledge based on dance-thought, the memory of the body and its intelligence, different from language-thought. This way of producing knowledge, having at its origins an ecology of attention and of speech, is based on deep listening of the dancer, the audience and the environment and thus corresponding to the three ecologies described by Félix Guattari. 


Eleanor Bauer (2018), ‘‘Effing The Ineffable’’ in Marten Spångberg (ed.), Movement Research, Creative Commons. 

Michel de Certeau (1990), Linvention du quotidien I. Arts de faire, Gallimard, Paris. 

Michel Foucault (1976), Histoire de la sexualité I. La volonté de savoir, Gallimard, Paris. 

Félix Guattari (1989), Les trois écologies, Galilée, Paris. 

Masaki Iwana (2002), The Intensity Of Nothingness, Tokyo. 

Jan Ritsema (2011), ‘’Solo Or How To Forget Dance And The Dancer’’, in The Swedish Dance History, Creative Commons. 

Nadia Vadori-Gauthier (2014), Du Mouvant, processus de création individuelle et collective d’images et de formes vivantes, PHD, Paris 8 University. 

Biography of Diane Bratu

Diana Bratu is a performative researcher. After a PhD in Communication Studies, Diana started the performative research You Have The Right To Remain Silent, questioning our communication in western societies and the creative process in dance. She explores body archives through dance, readings, performances and workshops. 

You Have The Right To Remain Silent won Catalysi Contest for a scholar residency with Claudia Castellucci in Teatro Comandini, Italy in 2016.