University of Arizona Associate Professor of Architecture Beth Weinstein has long been building connections between two spatial disciplines: architecture and dance. Over her esteemed career as a practitioner and educator, her research has moved between the spatial and performative and across scales—from drawing to installations and urban interventions—to render invisible conditions “sensible.”
Thanks in part to a 2022 individual grant from Chicago-based Graham Foundation, Weinstein is synthesizing more than a decade of her research on architecture and dance into a book that, she says, “establishes a field of practice, raises many critical questions” and also aims to “inspire people interested in interdisciplinary dialogues.”
Architecture + Choreography: Collaborations in Dance, Space and Time, which will be published by Routledge in 2023/2024, establishes the field of archi-choreographic experiments—"an underrecognized project type and form of creative act generated through collaborations between architects and choreographers,” says Weinstein. Through 40 case studies spanning 40 years, Weinstein’s book investigates the motivations instigating these collaborations, the enquiries these encounters afforded and the ways these archi-choreographic experiments challenged and expanded participants’ practices.
“It will be the first book dedicated to creative works at the seam between these two spatial practices and that result from collaborations between architects and choreographers,” she says. “While we normally build things that are grounded, have foundations and endure, in these spaces things tend to be ephemeral, dismounted, repeated, suspended, lightweight and at the small end of the budget-spectrum.”
What has emerged through researching these projects, says Weinstein, is a set of questions she further explores in the book, including: What is a dancing body? Can architecture dance? How can a dance reveal hidden histories of place that are embedded in a site? How can and does the architecture choreograph the dancer?
The Graham Foundation grant has allowed Weinstein to engage UArizona architecture students in the research, specifically “to build digital models from which we’re making isometric illustrations of the spaces for the vast majority of the projects featured in the book,” she notes.
Learn more about Weinstein’s research and her forthcoming book in the video above or learn more about Beth Weinstein’s Graham Foundation grant.
Weinstein, who joined the UArizona College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture in 2006 and chairs the Object Design and Spatial Design emphasis areas of the new Bachelor of Arts in Design Arts and Practices, is an architect and associate professor. Her publications on architecture, choreography and performativity in and of space include chapters in Performing Architectures, Critical Practices in Architecture, The Routledge Companion to Scenography, Architecture as a Performing Art and Disappearing Stage. She is published in the Journal of Architectural Education, the Journal of Artistic Research, Performance Research and Places, and serves on the advisory board of the Journal of Theater + Performance Design. Her research culminating in the Collaborative Legacy of Merce Cunningham Exhibition (2011-14) forms the springboard for her current book project, Architecture + Choreography: Collaborations in Dance, Space and Time.