Pause. Listen.

Lead Author:

Simon Ellis


Chisato Ohno, Jackie Shemesh



Unit of Assessment

33: Music, Drama, Dance, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies

Output Category:

Q - Digital or visual media

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Pause. Listen. (performance)

Video documentation of complete live performance (30 minutes, 4 cameras). A 5-minute edit of this documentation is available at the end of the Contextual Information.

Summary Statement (300 words)

Pause. Listen. is a practice-research dance project by Simon Ellis (choreographer), Chisato Ohno (dancer) and Jackie Shemesh (designer). The research uses a range of choreographic practices to explore listening, choreographic and performative agency, and the performance environment.

The dancer Chisato Ohno is fed a randomised score through wireless video playback on three small screens. These screens are unseen by the audience, and their presence is unimportant to the audience’s experience of the work. The texts presented on the screens display up to three choreographic prompts randomly pulled from a large collection of pre-practised choreographic materials. Each screen presents different possibilities and together they challenge Ohno’s memory, presence and sense of agency. As such, Ohno’s performance is both guided and unguided, choreographed and un-choreographed.

Pause. Listen. was founded on a residency model during its primary research and development period in Italy in 2013. This means that the performance work iterates or is adapted while the artists are together in residency. For the première in London in 2014 the artistic-research team was in residency at The Place for four weeks, and used this time to build the performance in response to the performance space, the conditions of the venue, and our evolving curiosities and inspirations as individuals and as a team.

 Research aims
  1. To understand and test the possibilities of creating choreographic systems that directly address agency
  2. To build a practice of working in relation to the nuances and limitations of specific performance environments
  3. To interrogate listening in choreographic practice-as-performance, and as a way to understand the choreographer-dancer relationship.

The discursive components of the research into listening, agency in choreographic practice, and the choreographer-dancer relationship are discussed in detail in the book chapter Pause. Listen.: Visibility and Freedom in Choreographic Practice.


Contextual Information

Production Credits:

Video Documentation:

Project website:

Research and development blog:

Related publications and presentations:

Ellis, Simon. ‘Pause. Listen.: Visibility and Freedom in Choreographic Practice’. In Dance and the Quality of Life, edited by Karen Bond. Social Indicators Research Series. Springer, 2018, pp.167-183  [download PDF]

Photo gallery: Selected images from performances of Pause. Listen. at The Place. Images by Stacie Bennett.

Notes / Distinction:

Header Image Credit:

Pause. Listen. Performer: Chisato Ohno. Photograph: © Stacie Bennett (2014)