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Contemporary Art Practice (MA)

Emma Boutet

Dance, video, field recording 06:13 2023

This is an autoethnographic video drawing upon personal experiences, exploring possibilities of movement, alternative points of contact, expression, vulnerability, empowerment, catharsis, healing, realigning. 

This was created alone, from a self-reflexive, feminist perspective – allowing myself, as a woman, to take up space in the world / transcend imposed / perceived / physical / emotional / relational / locational constraints within contained spaces combined with outdoor field recordings. 


What happens when the site becomes the point of contact?

How do embodied experiences inform motion and emotion?

How does dance liberate us? How can this be translated in art / life?

How can stillness create dynamic energy?

How does the crossover of private / public space effect affect?


Field recording: Chelsea Harbour, London


Dance, performance, video documentation, field recording


Reimagining Tango at Tate ModernParticipatory 1:1 performances, video 00:56 90 min performance 2023
Reimagining Tango: Test 2Participatory performance, video 02:26 2023
Reimagining Tango: Test 1Participatory performance, video 01:22 2023
Reimagining Tango: Test 1 Stills
Reimagining Tango: Test 1 StillsVideo stills 2023

Performed with no prior instruction or preparation, and no words exchanged during the interaction - the most participants were told before starting was: "You already know what to do."

Focusing on haptics, touch and tactility through non-visual, experiential activation of the Tate space and the audience’s somatic sensory system - creating a relational connection and unspoken dialogue between artist, audience, time and space. 

Visual and verbal constraints create a deeper connection by blocking distractions, heightening senses, and enhancing connection with the body, the experience, the movements and moments of non-verbal, non-visual communication through touch alone.

Centred on listening through tactility, empathy through embrace, care through attention, serenity through noise, sensitivity through darkness, balance through flux, improvisation through response, trust through touch.

Both participant and artist can assume feminine or masculine roles within this dance - listening to and/or guiding movements intuitively and instinctively. Fluidity of gender roles is traditionally inherent in Tango - where men learned the woman’s role, and women learned the man’s role - with no power hierarchy implied by the typical Western dance terms: ‘leader’ and ‘follower’.


Tate Modern documentation: Ruishuke Chen @ruishuke

Test 1 participation: Hannah Mason @hannahcharlotteart

Test 2 participation: Blake Hart-Wilson @blakehartwilson


Tate Modern, London

RCA Battersea South, London

RCA Woo Building, London

Dance, video 02:03 2023

Observing the freedom found in improvisation, the movement of many bodies within a space, and the childlike nature of pure dance. Also noticing the constraint within my own body - despite having danced for twenty years - reminding me of the principle of a 'point of contact' necessary within my work.


Workshop facilitator: Elina Akhmatova

Workshop provider: Independent Dance


Siobhan Davies Dance Studios, London

Participatory dance performance, video documentation 01:05 2022

This piece captures the Tango Embrace - the moment when two worlds meet.

First, connecting with your own body, then with the ground, then with your environment (space and sound), and finally, with your partner - through haptic tones of touch, the rise and fall of the breath, connecting through the heart, with the Self.

Now, the dance begins.

Thinking through relational qualities of social dance as a metaphor for the human condition; the affects and effects of non-visual experiences, and the potential of somatic movement practices.

Considering the meaning and impact of connection with the body, with the Self, and with others - in a world where we are increasingly disconnected, dislocated and isolated from each other - not only through lockdowns, but also through technological, psychological and socio-political factors affecting human beings in the world we live in today.


Participation: Rizpah Amadasun



Participatory dance performance, video documentation


Tango on the ThamesDance, video 01:44 2022

Observing and participating in outdoor Tango by the River Thames. Reflecting on the social constructs, visibility and invisibility, moments of connection and synchronicity, and the timeless nature of this dance.

Questioning the evolution of Tango from the ‘Golden Era’, when it could be found in the streets of Buenos Aires, shared amongst all, to how it is now shared in contemporary Western culture. The contemporary ‘elitist evolution’ of Tango prevents it from being learned, enjoyed and appreciated by people as a part of everyday life - with classes, practicas and milongas being far more expensive, and less numerous or welcoming to beginners and newcomers than typical Latin counterparts, such as Salsa and Bachata.

How could Tango’s social dance once again become embedded within society as a normal part of life?

How could its timeless nature allow it to once again become visible and accessible to all?


Organisers: Tango on the Thames


Battersea Reach, Thames River, London

Dance, video documentation 02:00 2023

Paying homage to the classic film Dirty Dancing - a personal inspiration since an early age, which I never imagined I would embody by unknowingly recreating it in real life when I grew up. Autoethnography and improvisation in this playful piece draw directly upon personal experience: dancing in the legendary music venue Ronnie Scott's in Soho, London - a site with incredible specificity, history and energy. The original film explores and critiques class, gender, sensuality, womanhood, freedom, individuality and the evolution of dance into a celebration of self.

Completely unaware I was being filmed while dancing - this highlights how the 'point of contact' between bodies allows for complete immersion and focused attention to embodied experience vs external viewers, within the relational context of social dance’s semi-anonymity within semi-public domains.

Social dance inherently involves a multiplicity of close encounters - highlighting potentially problematic relational territories, 'poly' approaches to perpetually distanced intimacy, incongruences between viewer perception versus reality for dancers, and the paradox of intimacy between strangers.


What memories shape our lives from an early age / played a significant role in who we become? 

How do sites hold memories? Of movement / music / frequencies / atmosphere / ambience / energy / experiences?

How to navigate the levels of close contact in dance while in a monogamous loving relationship? 

How to challenge preconceptions / emerging trends / unattainable ideals of relationships in contemporary society?

What can we learn / reconsider about relationships through the semi-anonymity / multiplicity of potentialities for connection in social dance? 


Dancing: Simon, Emma Boutet

Filming: Sasha 

Venue: Upstairs @ Ronnie Scott’s

Music: 'Be My Baby' by The Ronettes (solo by Ronnie) on RCA Records


Ronnie Scott's, Soho, London

Dance, video documentation 01:26 2022

Working with my own dancing to experience and observe the different focal points of attention - both while dancing and while watching dancing.

The full body awareness required to synchronise at speed prevents thinking about anything else while in motion - creating stillness through movement.


Dancing: Ian, Emma Boutet

Filming: Nadine Claire


Salsa Temple, London

Military rehearsal, video documentation 01:11 2023

This chance encounter with thousands of soldiers rehearsing a 'dance of power' at 3am in the streets of London shows how dance / movement practices can be weaponised and used in / on masses.

Soldiers can be seen shuffling and waddling into positions, under the command of their ‘choreographer’ - in preparation for the coronation, bringing to mind colonialism, global power relations, absurdity and rigmarole, human imperfection and authority over citizens.


Whitechapel, London

Dance, video documentation, journal text, voice 01:35 2022

This is why I keep bringing dance into my work.

It is the thing that reaches the very depths of my soul.

It makes my Heart happy.

It makes my body sing.

It centres me.

It grounds me.

It lets me fly.

It awakens and calms my spirit.

It sets my mind free.

It is my therapy

and my celebration.

It is my meditation.

It is the pouring out of passion.

It is intensity, power, elegance, precision.

It is feeling.

It is listening.

It is a conversation.

It is my inner dialogue.

It satisfies

and is insatiable.

It is the quiet calling

and the loud roar.

It is the tenderness

and the wildness.

It is the meeting of yourself.

It is the meeting of another.

It is a playground.

A freefall.

A trusting in the moment.

It is a moment.

It is fleeting, liminal.

It is the space between.

It is everything.

And more.


Dancers: Farshad Piro, Emma Boutet

Filming: Fusion Têkêlê


Soho Bar, Liverpool, UK


Dance, video documentation, journal text, voice


Archive 1
Archive 2
Archive 3
Archive 4
Archive 7
Archive 8
Archive 9
Archive 10
Archive 11
Archive 12
Archive 13
Archive 14
Archive 15
Archive 16
Research Archive & Dissertation, Digital, mixed media
Archive 6

This visual and multi-format archive is dedicated to capturing what captures my attention - in a space that is independent of the external influences, pressures and expectations of social media.

It is something that helps me to not only publish, but also to recall research that would otherwise be forgotten - buried in sketchbooks and hard drives, or procrastinated upon posting until it gathers digital dust…

My research / practice has been exploring: dance art, performance, politics of performance / activist art, epigenetics, kinesthetic empathy, attachment theory, affective touch, tactility, touch deprivation / starvation, community, 'skinship', feminism, feminine, gender power dynamics, relational encounters, relationship dynamics / evolution / substitutes, windows as ‘permeable membranes’ vs the wall of a contained studio / space, movement / balance practices in public places, alienation, motion/emotion, neuroscience, cognitive behavioural science, core beliefs/limitations, reprogramming subconscious mind, improvisation vs choreography, phenomenology, immateriality, archives, proxemics, intimacy between strangers, empathy, vulnerability, consent in social dance, lo-fi / ‘no-fi’ methodologies, non-object / non-verbal / non-visual, intuition, Flaneuse, personal as political, the Art/Life Divide, callisthenics, mind-body duality fallacy, art/life divide, freedom /constraint, somatic pluralities, authenticity, swarm theory, snowball effect, liminality, inter/anti-disciplinary practice, The Tango Embrace, Argentinian Tango, Urban Kizomba, Cuban Salsa and Contact Improvisation.


Digital, mixed media


Variable (WIP)

Emma Boutet

b. 1983 London, UK

Lives and works in London, UK

Emma Boutet’s award-winning practice explores dance, public sphere, [dis/re]connection, affect and experience. Mediums include: dance, performance, video, installation and situational work in the public realm, drawing upon 18+ years experience in dance: researching academically, performing professionally, competing regionally and nationally, and conducting several years of artistic dance-based practice-as-research. Key autobiographical influences are Argentine Tango, Urban Kizomba, Cuban Salsa, Contact Improvisation and somatic movement practices.

18+ years experience in Contemporary Art & Design includes working with Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB), FACT (Film, Art & Creative Technology), Liverpool Biennial of International Contemporary Art, Medical Museoin Copenhagen, Walker Gallery, Bluecoat and Pontio Arts & Innovation; leading, developing, producing and supporting UK based and international exhibitions, theatre productions and events - and touring exhibitions in London, New York, Barcelona, Korea, Copenhagen and Australia.

Awards and honours include: Representing University of the Arts London | London College of Fashion to The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in Buckingham Palace, Leverhulme Trust | RCA Arts Scholarship Award, Thinking Digital Emerging Talent Prize Winner, Sir Richard Stapley Educational Grant Award, European Opera Centre Artwork Commission Award, UAL-LCF Travel Scholarship | Cordwainers Award and the Fine Art Prize for Best Academic Achievement in Fine Art (Hons) at LHU. Exhibitions include Tate Modern Lates, RCA2023, Hybrid Realities, Montez Press Radio, Thresholds: The Adjacent Possible, States of Flow (solo) and Outside Gallery Walls.

Completed MA Contemporary Art Practice: Public Sphere at RCA (2023), with previous studies including BA Fine Art (First Class) from LHU, FdA Design & Technology at University of the Arts London | London College of Fashion, and Art Foundation at Parc Menai.

Originally from the Portobello Market area of Notting Hill, with French, Estonian and Irish background. Lives and works in South West London, UK.

Performing 'Reimagining Tango' at Tate Modern

My practice explores how dance-based contemporary art practice-as-research in the public sphere can be a catalyst for meaningful change through individual and collective experience. I am particularly interested in embodied and immersive experience, authorship, body-mind, and sensorial response - focusing on relationships between artists, publics and institutions in socially engaged art practice, blurring boundaries between art/dance spaces and the public realm. Mediums include: dance-based performance, video, participation, situation, installation and mixed media.

I believe in the social function of art as an active and accessible form of change-making and cultural democracy, through inclusive approaches to the Arts that empower diverse individuals and communities. At RCA, I have deepened my research into the immediate and long-term transformational impact of potential methodologies in dance-based contemporary art for individuals and society. Collaborative projects and interventions in the public realm aim to create work that is greater than the sum of its parts - transcending barriers, creating connection and making meaning.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ” — Maya Angelou