Exploring a physical dialogue 

In short: 

This practice asks how we can share a space and relate to each other through physical dialogue while maintaining and/or exploring one ́s own agency. The group of master students invited their participants to engage in physical dialogue in a way that offered them the chance to maintain their own boundaries of personal space.

By Esther, Maggi, Sara, Oona

Set-up /rules: 

A larger space allowing for more freedom of movement and minimising the risk of collisions. The borders of the space should be clearly marked. The outer edges or walls create a zone for observing, a way to communicate that participants are free to leave the space when active participation is not wanted.

A decided number of hula hoops are placed in the space, spread out and laid on the ground, not overlapping. This is a visual marker of space, it is important that the hula hoops are not too small, the hula hoops should be the approximate size of a comfortable personal space.


Facilitators with the hula hoops begin to suggest various ways to move in silence- synchronise with the movement of the hoops, relating to other hula hoops hold by other facilitator, using the hula hoops to mark a distance to other participants, inviting others to respond and react to your hula hoops. The practice should start slowly and maintain a distance between participants by staying outside the hoop and using the hoop to clearly mark distances.

As the participants get comfortable and explore their own agency, ideas are shared, possibilities realised, and boundaries challenged in silence.

The facilitators take turns stepping into and out of interactions to observe actions from the outside and step into intercept inappropriate or risky behaviour. They may also occasionally coax or invite participants remaining in the “observing” zone. These invitations should be expressed with no force or pressure.


Exploring, Inviting, Movement, Touching


It is possible to organize the dialogues in a more structured manner, by exemplifying possibilities with the hoops and practicing them. By setting a theme for the dialogue and finding ways to enact them physically. By taking turns of who is engaged in a physical dialogue instead of many dialogues taking place simultaneously.

By changing the number of hoops available. By repeating the exercise over a longer duration and finding ways to let it develop and evolve, for example by eventually removing the hoops altogether or replacing them with a different object.

It is also possible to add words, sounds or music. The initial transgressions of the exercise involve crossing boundaries of physical expression and proximity to other bodies, after these thresholds are overcome, there is a possibility to introduce other challenges.

Connection to PIMDI:

Exploring physical dialogues leads to an increased activation of the imagination while looking for possible physical expression and trying to understand the movements and suggestions of others. In the beginning we search for previous references, and find memories connected to games, play, social dances, and sports. Being together in this way opens up for shared experiences and new ways of seeing one another and sharing space. The notion of reacting and responding to unpredictable actions serve as a reminder of our own possibilities and responsibilities in a given situation. Moving together offers a way of bonding, and may increase solidarity, and a sense of belonging. In one sense the focus on strengthening relations and interdependency may resolve some conflicts without even addressing them. In another sense, having a space to connect without words may offer a space to relieve tension and strengthen bonds which may ease verbal dialogues on sensitive topics. The focus on maintaining and exploring one’s own agency in a group setting, while also respecting the boundaries of others is a democratic practice.