This was a co-designed experiment exploring our “slow togethering” concept within the context of a conference. We began with a short presentation giving some context of our project and work together so far, followed by an open environment in which participants were invited to explore the space and the themes offered within it. Participants were invited to move around the space to listen, watch or read material which we provided, or they could write on paper or on a shared document, play their own sound, have a conversation, read aloud material found in the space, write annotations on material, reorganise material, or move through space with other bodies. We provided no directions or goals for this exploration, and it came to an end once the allotted time had passed, without any final common reflection.

This article contains the presentation script, some impressions of the shared experiment (of which you can find more on our Research Catalogue page), and a reflection on the ideas about slow togethering that have emerged through and beyond this experiment.

We start with unravelling the string.[1]

S: I admit, I am a bit lost on how to start or what to start on. What defines a beginning? Can we ever even say “well, this is or was the very beginning of my thought?” Do thoughts have a beginning, literally? Can you ever start from scratch?

M: The question does not “arrive” out of the blue, unrelated to anything in time and space. Any question that I may initiate, in this dialogue, is really the result of or even the response to another dialogue. Our dialogue only really exists in the context of change – at least, in the context of time passing. Without time passing, there can be no responding.

S: How could we present our simultaneous thoughts (that we have practiced in our “slow togethering”) simultaneously, in order to also present (live) the non-hierarchical element that our process/practice consists of?

M: Our experience and understanding of time is such a fundamental part of this activity of question and response. And I think that has become really clear again when we are thinking of how we can “perform” or “enact” the dialogic thinking in the setting of a conference presentation. Because with a spoken-aloud presentation it is almost impossible to avoid the determinism of time, or chronology, or a pre-given order.

S: How does non-hierarchical practice include the audience? Does it include the audience at all? Or is the very fact of having an author and an audience always already hierarchical? Is it enough to allow the audience to choose their own direction, time, space, movement (of thoughts and bodies), understanding, interpretation? Or do we create a non-hierarchical environment by giving the audience equal space and time?

M: How can we share our time together, in the presentation, in a way that draws attention to the fact that we are sharing time, at the same time as we are experiencing time differently? As presenters, we have an unusual responsibility for and control over the way in which our co-inhabitors in the space and the time experience both time and space.

S: I am thinking: what if the “slow togethering” is first and foremost about giving enough space and time for actions, ideas, conversations etc. to happen? For some reason, I started to think about the three dimensions of space – length, depth, width, and the fourth, the time. I am interested in how the slow togethering finds its place within them.

Hand string over to a participant. Start to put the letters out in the space.


What you have just heard are extracts from a written dialogue exchange, part of our experiment in what we have called “slow togethering.” What you heard was not, in fact, an ordinary conversation (as it came across just now), but rather a dialogue that happened simultaneously but independently, and over time.


We have been working together, through many online conversations, collaborative texts, and written dialogues, intensively for about one year. Initially, we spoke about a shared questioning of why there are not many places for dance dramaturgs to meet and share practice with one another. In imagining a vision of what such a gathering of dance dramaturgs could look like, what we would want it to look like, we began digging more deeply into questions about the nature of our practice, what sharing that practice could mean, and what it might even look like in practice.


One of the important questions for us was inspired by Nienke Scholts (2017, 111) in her article “dramaturgs that do not work for a work,” namely: “what exactly constitutes … [an] independent dramaturgical practice[?]” and “what kind of dramaturgy can develop between two dramaturgs that ‘do not work for a work’?” We asked what dance dramaturgy practice could be beyond the making of a creative work; beyond the collaboration between an artist and a – usually a single – dramaturg. What would happen if many dramaturgs practice dramaturgy together? Could we find out more about what our practice is? Could we indeed develop new ways of practicing, or understanding the delineations of our practices?


We had observed in the current landscape of dance dramaturgy that thinking about practice, and developing practice, both tended to sit within capitalist-informed assumptions that continue to dominate so much of the infrastructure governing the making and presenting of art. That is, the modes we had of doing, discussing and developing dance dramaturgy were bounded by a relationship to product and value. For example, the practice of the dramaturg is often understood primarily in relation to the producing of a work of art, which has a certain value. Relationships between artists and dramaturgs are often protected, kept private, and commodified. Also, we found that the development of dance dramaturgy practice – for example through workshops or talks – was often set up in the hierarchised context in which information is a product which is disseminated by an “expert” to people who wish to obtain this product.


Of course, many colleagues in the world of the arts are actively resisting these structures, although, as we know, this is difficult. We too were interested in finding ways to resist the dominance of the capitalist value system, and its implications for dramaturgy when there is an emphasis on product, consumption, and value. We wondered whether resisting such frameworks would help to reframe what we think of as dance dramaturgy practice in the first place.


This thinking led us towards prioritising dialogue, as a way of examining and pushing against the contextualisation of dance dramaturgy practice within a system that values product and productivity. Our intuition was that in dialogue, we could focus on generation instead of production. Dance-dramaturgical practice is often centred in the “between” of where ideas are formed from dialogic process, and we wanted to find a way to rest in this place of between-ness, of generation without product. Through dialogue, we felt able to move away from the hierarchical systems which had shaped many of the contexts both of us had so far encountered for thinking about and developing practice.

Prepare the stations: S set up the two laptops.


For the past half-year we have collaborated on an article for the journal Documenta (Laurence & Živkovič Kranjc 2023a). In this work we have tried to experiment with forms of sharing and forms of practising dramaturgy. We have been working with a methodology which we have called slow togethering: over a set period of time, we wrote a series of texts for each other. Each week, each of us would write a text, and then we exchanged these texts by email on a given day. The following week, each of us would then respond to the text received from the other, and exchange it again. In this way, we developed two dialogue threads which emerged together over time.

We were interested to see how this way of developing thought together would proceed: how would the thoughts of the two dialogue threads interact? How would our responses to one another generate thoughts and questions for each other and for ourselves?

Our slow togethering offered us ways of developing thought in which the questions and the responses occurred simultaneously, and over time. Because each of us initiated a thread for the dialogue exchange, we had equal responsibility for proposing our own ideas. But we also had equal responsibility for responding to the other’s ideas. Furthermore, as we continued with the process of exchanging and dialoguing with each other over time, we both found that our thoughts unfolded along their own path, while simultaneously enfolding the questioning-of and responding-to each other’s thoughts.

Prepare the stations: M set up the google document.


When we were writing the journal article, we felt it important not just to write about what happened, but to include this simultaneous and slow form of thinking within the article itself. So, part of the article consists of the two dialogue threads presented in two columns, while the other part is more of a collaborative commentary on the experiment.

We felt it important to stay true to the values of the slow togethering practice, in which thought develops alongside and over time. We wanted to offer the reader some space to encounter our dialogue as it happened, and to invite them to take time to feel and experience the simultaneousness of the two threads, by placing them alongside one another on the page.

In presenting this work in a conference situation, we have ended up asking ourselves: how can we present a practice of being in dialogue over time, when we are not in a dialogue, and we have only a limited amount of time?

We want to attempt to find some way in which we can share the values and the possibilities of our developing ideas on slow togethering, with its emphasis on slowness (over time) and togethering (being simultaneous). We want this sharing to go beyond merely describing the work.

Prepare the stations: S set up the speaker and the papers/pens.


In this event today, we want to experiment with how to do slow togethering within a group setting, and within a limited time frame. We’re interested in how to set up the conditions of simultaneity, and generation of thought, with multiple people in the dialogue.

In order to do this, we will open up this event to everyone’s interventions. We have set out some prompts around the room and we invite everyone to join us in navigating our way around, finding things to encounter, and adding initial thoughts and responses in different ways.

We suggest to alternate between taking in existing thoughts in the room, and adding new thoughts as initial ideas or responses.

We offer some existing thoughts to start us off; these are a mixture of our own dialogues, in different formats, and also some letters that were written by colleagues in Aarhus at the EASTAP conference at which we presented (Laurence & Živkovič Kranjc 2023b). You will find letters, a video, some sound recordings, some written text on a screen, a collaborative online document (which you can access through the link or QR code), and a string to navigate with.


To encounter existing thoughts, you can read aloud or in silence, listen, watch, move.

To add your thought (either as an initial idea or as a response), you can write a letter, draw, read aloud to someone, record your voices, add your thoughts to the shared document. You are welcome to find your own way of doing this.

We’ll now spend around 40 minutes exploring the room, and there will be a sound to mark the end of this time.[2]

A floorplan representation of the space of the experiment, and the stations.

Thoughts in the aftermath

In our research previous to the presentation, our experiments in slow togethering had made us particularly attentive to the passing of time: we focused on the importance of the time taken to think about, and formulate, a response to each other’s thoughts. This came to be the primary aspect that influenced the way in which we saw our work as “question-question/response-response”, different to the practice we conventionally undertook in our work as dance dramaturgs working with choreographers.

In presenting this work in a conference situation, faced with the impossibility of taking the equivalent amount of time to consider and formulate responses, and also knowing that we would have multiple respondees, we wondered what the concept of “slow togethering” would even mean. The first experiment (the writing of the journal article) had above all highlighted the aspect of time within the concept of slow togethering (especially the slowness, which for us was the way that thought developed over time – over weeks and months; and the togethering being togetherness in time). Reflecting on the event at CARPA as a second experiment in slow togethering, it instead turned our attention to space, more than time. In fact, we became more attentive to the idea of simultaneity being the coherence of time and space. In our previous research, we had found that simultaneity was important as a form of imagined togethering: we knew that during the week we set ourselves for the writing of a response to the previous week’s letter, our thoughts were developing “simultaneously.” We chose to present our written thoughts next to each other, in two columns, for the journal article. In this way, we hoped to activate the sense of simultaneity from the perspective of the reader, who would understand the idea of simultaneity of thoughts developing in time, by encountering their proximal placement on the page. In a way, this choice of placing the texts next to one another was an initial spatial representation, and possible spatial enaction, of the simultaneity of the development of two thought strands in our first slow togethering action.

In the experiment at CARPA, the quality of simultaneity was also felt in the spatial dimension, but in a different way. During the 40 minutes of individual exploration in the space, there was a co-existence of shared time / space, and individual time / space. Individuals wandered along their own paths, encountering other individuals, and other thoughts in various media, with an individual trajectory in time and space. And yet, those paths and encounters were also determined by the specific time frame and spatial dimensions of where and when the experiment was taking place. We found that this experiment highlighted new dimensions of the slow togethering method and concept we are in the process of developing: the spatial part of “togethering” and how spatial togethering and temporal togethering are related.

As the experiment progressed over time, the space itself developed, through the simultaneously-occurring individual decisions made by participants as they shared time and space with other participants. The string continued to be drawn across the room in a large tangled web, which then determined the routes and some of the kinds of movements that were needed if people wanted to move around the room and visit the different stations. As people moved around, different knots of dialogues or conversations formed. The soundscape changed and developed, as some participants took up the invitation of playing sounds of music on their own devices, or sending them, louder, via the bluetooth speaker provided.

I watched people using Station 3, the computer screen showing a shared document. Different people contributed, some typed directly at the computer, you could observe them, their bodies, their gestures, you could follow their traces. Others logged in from their phones or their own computers. Those were much more anonymous. And I remember how I wondered who they were, who was making these changes in the text. The text in the shared document changed without you really noticing it… For a moment you looked away (to something else) and the space was full of new thoughts, or subtle changes, words would be highlighted…

As I passed some of the conversational knots I was aware that conversations being had in the room were not necessarily thematically related to the work that we had proposed; perhaps, people were taking the opportunity to reflect on the presentation that had directly preceded ours; perhaps it was just a chance to talk about plans for later in the conference, or continue with some other conversations that were ongoing within and beyond the conference. However, these interactions were taking place in a layer of time and space that put them “together” with our initial proposals for participating in the experiment, in which we invited people to encounter the material in the room, and add to it. Here, the quality of “response” is more difficult to define than it had been with the slow togethering that occurred solely between the two of us in our original experiment for the journal article.

This raises further questions about what we think of as being “response.” In preparing for the experiment, we had discussed the challenge of “responding” immediately to a proposed thought, rather than allowing ourselves the “slowness” of slow togethering, in which responses can develop over a longer time. In the context of the experiment at CARPA, it raises the question: do we consider “responding” to be also moving around the space that was being created as we went? Do we consider “responding” to be those conversations taking place in that space – that had invited conversation – but which didn’t specifically take into account the text, scenography, video, sound, etc, that we had offered for encounter? Is a “response” also a response when it is simply in the same space at the same time?

Due to circumstances, material traces left from the responses of the experiment are few. In the third iteration of this project (after initially wondering how we could present “slow togethering” in a conference setting, and then bringing about the experiment itself), we chose to return to one of the traces left still available to us, which was the collaborative google document which people could add to and encounter in the space of the experiment.[3] Building on the idea we used in our journal article, of spatial placement of text referring to and perhaps bringing about a sense of simultaneity, we had created this shared document as a table with three columns. We were interested in how people contributing to the document (from different devices) could simultaneously write thoughts that might appear “next to” each other in the columns. We found, in returning to these contributions later, that the text drew attention to the idea of “response,” and we chose to work with that further by each continuing the document as a way of reflecting on our experience of what had happened in the workshop-experiment.

“Is there such a thing as no response?”

We found that the layout of the table created a context which enabled reflection specifically on the intertwining of time – the sequential time, of one thing following another – and space.

We could not but be simultaneous, in our workshop. We invited simultaneous differences, instead of simultaneous sameness, which I think most workshops or talks aim for – the sameness that everyone in a particular space experiences the same sequence of events at the same moment. In our workshop, the simultaneity was fragmented but also heightened. No one person in the space had the same sequence going on, and yet we were there in a limited, boundaried set of clock-time, doing-together. I have a sense that there were multiple tangled threads emanating from each individual person that was their trajectory through our space and our interventions. Those threads tangled with one another as people encountered one another and changed their trajectories accordingly.

I think that our experiment in slow togethering which could not be slow, in fact explored a different dimension of the timeliness that we have been creating with slowness – that of entering independent time-threads, but at the same time and in the same space.

“My thoughts inhabit space

.      ….        .          ..         ……………

.                        .                        …

……….        ……………………………


.                                                         .


..      …………..          .      .      .      .


though they happen through time.


After the timer went, most people left the space. Traces of conversations continued with people gradually leaving the room. The room was full of letters strewn around the floor and hanging on the string. String was everywhere – on the floor, up to the ceiling, on the walls, tangled together. During the workshop, someone had thrown the string all the way up to the rigging. How would we ravel up the string without cutting it?

We worked together with some of the participants who remained in the space, untangling the string, solving the problem of getting it down from the rigging, having conversations and continuing the togethering, slowly clearing up the space.

We began the experiment with a collaborative unravelling of the string, creating a giant web in the space. This web conditioned our movement, created the spatial relationships, and set the tone for the experimental atmosphere. After most people left the space, there was something symbolic about how the ravelling of the string gradually returned the space to its previous state: but what remained was also the trace of the largeness of the space when it had been filled with the web of string, which had connected us all, and performed our connections, within our experimental slow togethering.


1 While one person spoke, the other person unravelled a ball of string, stretching lengths of string through the room and fixing it to different points on the wall or floor with masking tape. After a short while, we asked participants to continue with this task, passing the ball of string around the room. While we spoke, a giant web of string emerged in the space.

2 We were in Studio 4 of the Theatre Academy at Uniarts Helsinki. Follow this link to see images of the space: www.uniarts.fi/en/locations/studio-4/ 

3 This collaborative document can be found here: tinyurl.com/2snk7xjp.


Laurence, Miranda, and Sara Živkovič Kranjc. 2023a. “‘Slow togethering’ as a tool for dialogic development amongst dance dramaturgs.” Documenta 41(1): 183–201. doi.org/10.21825/documenta.85992.

Laurence, Miranda, and Sara Živkovič Kranjc. 2023b. “Dramaturgy of Practice: A Slow Togethering.” Unpublished paper presentation at the 6th EASTAP Conference, Aarhus, Denmark, 14–18 June 2023.

Scholts, Nienke. 2017. “Dramaturgs That Do Not Work for a Work.” In The practice of dramaturgy: working on actions in performance, edited by Konstantina Georgelou, Efrosini Protopapa and Danae Theodoridou, 109–117. Amsterdam: Valiz.

Please note: Miranda Laurence’s attendance at the CARPA8 conference was supported by a PGR Bursary from DramaHE.


Miranda Laurence

Miranda Laurence is a dance dramaturg and cultural producer, currently PhD Researcher in the “Mobilizing Dramaturgy” programme at Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University and Department of Dramaturgy and Musicology, Aarhus University. Her work often focuses on generating and facilitating surprising meetings between academic researchers, artist practitioners, and lay experts, including as founder-director of Oxford-based academic and practice exchange programme “Dance & Academia: Moving the Boundaries” and as Arts Development Officer at the University of Reading. She has published on dance dramaturgy practice in The Theatre Times and Oxford Dance Writers. mirandalaurence.co.uk

Sara Živkovič Kranjc

Sara Živkovič Kranjc is conducting her PhD in Performing Arts Studies at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia focusing on the relation between dramaturgy and silence. As a dance dramaturge she worked with choreographers in co/productions of Bora Bora – dans og visuelt teater, Dansehallerne, Skånes Dansteater, LANDERER&COMPANY, MUOVI/Fabio Liberti, Institute 0.1, Bunker, Flota/Matjaž Farič, and in artistic residencies at Performing Arts Platform, Dance & Dramaturgy EU Network, Aaben Dans, Riksteatern, Théâtre Sévelin 36 among others. In 2016 she co-established Institute for contemporary art practice and theory 0.1, where she also works as producer and curator.