The Household Dance Protocol / Hushållets Dansprotokoll

Dance techniques for households
2017 -> ongoing research project


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The House Hold dance protocol takes it start in my curiosity for daily routines and domestic house hold tasks. In this blog I want to share parts of the theoretical background for the project as well as random notes and pieces of inspiration.

The starting point:
The Household Dance Protocol (in swedish “Hushållets Dansprotokoll”) is a long term project examining the potential of household work from a dance improvisation perspective. The aim of the project is to renegotiate the value of household work and together with the participants and its audience fantasize about a reality where for example doing dishes could be a highly regarded task, associated with high social status and respect.

This might seem like a challenging aim as most of us would probably agree that house hold tasks can be both uninteresting, repetitive, straining and time consuming. But I ask you to join my journey and the different episodes of this project. Maybe The Household Dance Protocol will not change the status of household work in the society, but it might offer its audience an opportunity to try another approach and to imagine another reality where household work has a different meaning and status.

The work through the coming two years will consist of different parts starting with workshops, then moving into the creation of a radio-podcast show and eventually also a performance.

This project will touch upon three different focuses that I think are strongly connected to the current status of household work. Those are the historical background, the possible added value of household work and the physical dimension of household work. Here below you will be able to read more about these three parts.

The music and the format of the workshops and the podcasts are developed in collaboration with composer Antti Tolvi.

Street art by unknown artist, Tel Aviv 2017 --------------------------->

1. The historical dimension:
Traditionally household work has been the work of the women, in our society, only two generations ago the wife was expected to take care of the house and the children on full time without any real economical compensation other then the "safety" a providing husband could offer her. The great contribution that these women gave for for free to the society (with their own independence as a price) is often underestimated.

In the high time of the housewife era, the 1950’s, the work of the house wife was considered as something almost mythical. In magazines from the era it is described how, with a magical and naturally feminine touch she would turn the house into a protected oasis where the children would grow up safely and where the husband could escape the real worlds problems. This was an ideal and not necessarily a reflection of reality but the mythical status of the housewife is never the less interesting for this project.

The mythical housewife ------------------------------------------------->

The housewife's household work has been a statistically “invisible” work that contributed to the wealth of many generations and to the larger economy of the nation. Yet, still today there is a very low social status in spending time with household work. Any profession that is related to cleaning and doing dishes is low payed, many people prefer to hire cleaners for their houses, machines that will take care of the cleaning work are popular and constantly under development, and issues of cleaning is a common reason for arguments and fights in many families. While jogging or handcraft work are popular hobbies today, household work is still an unwelcome task in our daily life.
In this reality the Household dance protocol takes it start.

2. The added value:
What could be possible undiscovered potentials in exercising daily household chores? Could household work be compared to mindfulness or approached as an exercise in spirituality? As a part of this blog I want to include a collection of examples that can put our everyday work into new perspectives.

*In christianity people have always stressed the good ethics of hard labour and it is the common practice of monks and nuns to take care of the daily chores in the convents as a part of their religious dedication. If we look into the bible there are many references to the importance of hard work. But in christianity the household work gets a relatively small role compared to religions like Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

Here a detail of Velasquez painting of a scene from the Bible of Martha. She complains to Jesus that she is doing all the household work while her sister is listening to his stories.
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*In Asian traditions I see a string focus on the care and attention of daily actions. I am not an expert in this vast and rich topic but I would like to mention a few examples that have crossed my way. Qigong is a movement practice deriving from Chinese medicine and martial arts that is emphasizing attention and ease in simple repetitive movements. A Qigong teacher once explained to me "that each movement should be carried out with the minimal amount of effort needed in order to make possible the maximum amount of repetitions", that mantra is something that has come back to me many times while doing various household works.

I recetly found this quote in an article about Confucius at TheAtlantic.com:
"Zhuangzi, a Daoist philosopher, taught that we should train ourselves to become “spontaneous” through daily living, rather than closing ourselves off through what we think of as rational decision-making. In the same way that one deliberately practices the piano in order to eventually play it effortlessly, through our everyday activities we train ourselves to become more open to experiences and phenomena so that eventually the right responses and decisions come spontaneously, without angst, from the heart-mind."

*There are also traditions like the Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies that demands perfection and full control of every detail of the preparations. The grace of movement and mind and the strive for perfection of the products and the environment of the tea ceremonies is believed to influence the tea drinkers mind in a positive manner. Here again there is an almost mythological role given to the one that is taking care of the chores, in some way similar to the expectations on the housewifes of the 1950's. ------------------------------------->

*In "The Work", a guidebook for self inquiry, the writer Byron Katie speaks about letting go of your ego by “accepting what is” and to not resist your current situation. In her book she mentions one example of how she nowadays happily goes and picks up the socks that her children have forgotten lying on the floor. Picking the socks up becomes a part of her spiritual practice, where she can exercise attention to “what is” instead of “what should be”, and by doing this task without wishing anything to be different she finds peace of mind.

*Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do"

*Another quote from the article about Confusius at TheAtlantic.com points at the real physical experience of our body posture:
"In research published in Psychological Science, social psychologist Amy Cuddy and her colleagues found that when we take a power stance (stand with our legs apart, arms thrust out, taking up space), the pose does not only cause other people to view us as more confident and powerful; it actually causes a hormonal surge that makes us become more confident."

I am collecting more examples and I would be happy to hear your suggestions for this list.
Feel welcome to send me an email to hello(a)sandrinalindgren.me

3. The physical dimension
I believe that household work holds a lot of potential for physical fitness. I promise you a text about this dimension of the Household dance protocol very soon. We will visit the Swedish household research methods of the 50's (Hemmens forskningsinstitut), dance improvisation methodology and discuss the fitness potentials of the kitchen area.

Soon I will tell you about "Hemmens forskningsinstitut"!----------->