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Manuscript deadline
15 August 2020

Cover image - International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media

International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media

Special Issue Editor(s)

Scott deLahunta, Centre for Dance Research, Coventry University
[email protected]

David Rittershaus, Motion Bank, Mainz University of Applied Sciences
[email protected]

Rebecca Stancliffe, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
[email protected]

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Digital Annotation and the Understanding of Bodily Practices

Abstract/ Proposal Deadline: Monday 1 June 2020

In recent decades, the dance field saw a number of projects that experimented with digital technology to document and disseminate the artistic work of choreographers such as Siobhan Davies, Emio Greco | PC, Rui Horta, Richard Alston, William Forsythe and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker. All projects made use of time-based recording, and some used digital annotation to create new information linkages and layers aiming to make choreographic processes more explicit. We see now that questions concerned with the digital annotation of time-based recordings of dance are of importance for bodily practices more generally across the performance arts as well as further afield, e.g. in the discipline of anthropology and studies of intangible heritage. The IJPADM dedicated issues in 2013 and 2014 (9:1 and 10:1) to the topic of digital documentation of dance and performance. Since that time, digital annotation initiatives have increased dramatically raising new questions not only related to the digitisation of bodily practices, but also how we understand and value them. Therefore, this issue is intended as a platform for reflection on the implications of digital annotation for our critical comprehension of such practices.

Digital video technology has become the standard for dance recording and documentation, but its increasing availability, affordability, and ease of use means it is available in unprecedented ways for researchers from all fields for making recordings of bodily practices. Newer recording technologies such as motion capture have also been used for documentation and analysis. While it is now possible to disseminate and share these recordings widely via the web, the media formats themselves are usually hermetic. In other words, the information and knowledge that they contain cannot simply be searched for, but must be accessed through analogue viewing and listening. This can be challenging for the retrieval of information and access to knowledge that is not made explicit in time-based records. This is where digital annotations in various forms (metadata, formalized, descriptive, diagrammatic) start to play an important role, especially in light of the growing number of databases and digital archives of bodily practices.

Annotation software tools have been emerging from digital performance and dance documentation projects including the Transmedia Knowledge-Base for Performing Arts, Motion Bank, MemoRekall, and most recently Research Video. Digital annotation has fostered connections to digital fields of practice such as creative coding, as evidenced by the series of Choreographic Coding Labs organised by Motion Bank, and collaborations with computer science as part of the WhoLoDance project. From these developments there are urgent questions arising about digital annotation, both theoretical and practical, within the performing arts and in qualitative research dealing with the documentation of bodily practices. These questions range from basic definitions about what annotation is, the context in which it is used, the way in which information and knowledge is represented (through the underlying technological models and in visual representations), as well as differences in working with live or pre-recorded audio-visual materials. This includes, for text-based annotation in particular, the invention of vocabularies, ontologies, and the use of language. Artists and researchers who embrace annotation as a way of qualitatively enriching their documentation and generating new insights have to develop their own method, as none are routinized in the field itself. This raises critical questions regarding the stabilising and sharing of vocabularies and the implications for establishing practical standards.

These are some of the questions contributions to this issue might consider. Others include:

  • What is the link between manual and automatic annotation?
  • What is the future of annotation in relation to linked data?
  • How does annotation practice shape understandings of bodily knowledge?
  • How can annotation change or expand the understanding of dance notation?
  • How can annotation be used to address questions of performance studies?
  • What questions are raised by interdisciplinary art-science projects involving annotation?
  • Are other fields using annotation, e.g. linguistics, that artistic research might learn from?
  • What part can annotation play in the creation of new teaching and learning resources in performing arts?

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Submission Instructions

These are the kinds of questions we aim to address by inviting submission of both original scholarly research articles and other document formats. Research articles should be in the range between 6000-8000 words and include images and/ or diagrams as necessary. Other document formats are an opportunity for artists, companies or organisations who may not be in a position to write a research article to contribute to this issue. This could include shorter (1000-2500 words) project reports or interviews about annotation-related projects such as new on-line performing arts education, intangible heritage documentation, performance conservation or practice-as-research related studies. All submissions can consider including supplemental media submissions for the publisher’s on-line platform.

If you wish to submit something for this special issue, please send a short abstract (if a research article) or proposal (if an alternative document format) of no more than 300 words and a biography of 100 words to Rebecca Stancliffe ([email protected]).


  • Abstract/ Proposal by 1 June 2020
  • Notification of invitation to submit by 15 June
  • First full draft by 15 August (select issue title when submitting your draft to ScholarOne)
  • Publication anticipated in March 2021


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