The Prosodic Body practice began in 2006 when Daria Faïn and I were making a pilgrimage to the ruins of various Asklepieia (ancient sanitariums in Greece dedicated to the doctor-demigod Asklepius.) We were awed by our experiences, insights, dreams and imaginations that occurred on these integrative sites of healing. The two main organs of an Asklepieion are the Abaton and an Amphitheater. An abaton is a chamber for alone-therapies: dream incubation (enkoimesis,) divine insight, word-cure. The amphitheater "realizes" that healing is also necessarily communal and acted out. Perhaps it's more accurate to say that our asklepieian experience intensified the prosodic work we had already been doing for many years, based on our premise of prosody as precursor to both language and music, with prosody and movement as coeval; thus (our word for our working together) choreiaprosodia, and our further imperative, that art be constitutive of health and wellbeing. Or perhaps the Prosody Body began for me when I would be at the side of those deep in the process of dying, reachable only through tone, mantra and prayer. Perhaps it all began as a boy when the exuberance of the energy generated by placing one word next to the other would keep me up all night. Perhaps it's fair to say it began because prosody is unbegun, as the very vibes that brought everything about (in Tantric tradition, known as anāhata-nada, unstruck sound,) which we now speak, through time, and timelessly.
The Prosodic Body is a field of research and experiential practices begun by choreographer Daria Faïn and architect-poet Robert Kocik. The Prosodic body is focused on the benefits of prosody as applied to the arts, health, social wellbeing, and as an awareness practice in itself.
Simply put, prosody is the pitch, stress, intonation, amplitude and cadential contouring of speech. It is also the quality of our pauses and our gestural and unspoken implications. More comprehensively, prosody bears the expressive, emotional, musical, motivational, kinesic, interactional and most-intensely connotative and communicative aspects of language. The Prosodic Body also posits prosody as the proto-linguistic precursor of speech and language, both evolutionarily with regard to our predecessors and developmentally with regard to infancy. Prosody "favors" interaction, heightened emotion, intricate communication, as well as coordinated and cooperative behavior. There are even meditative and poetic practices based on prosody as cosmogenic, with phonemes and meters as originary formative energies. Altogether, as an artscience, this integrative prosody is the medium, means, messaging and mission of the Prosodic Body.
The Prosodic Body works collaboratively with various practitioners in diverse communities, contexts and countries, creating events and performances and convoking conferences, forums, classes, workshops, exhibitions and counteractions that bring the potential of prosody to bear on specific occasions and causes.
The Prosodic Body has worked with composers, cognitive scientists, indigenous peoples, social scientists, poets, performers, political economists, community and cultural programmers, policy makers, qigong masters, linguists, sound healers, bodyworkers and biophysicists, drawing on languages such as Ewe, Japanese, Armenian, Sanskrit, Spanish, Lenape and Greek; having presented work in settings as varied as the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Harvard Divinity School, Laboratory Alameda Mexico City, Poets House NYC, Saari Residence in Myanämäki Finland, Movement Research, New York Live Arts, BRIC Arts Media Brooklyn, Bella Artes Cante San Luis Potosi Mexico, Center for Performance Research Brooklyn, St. Mark's Poetry Project, Austrian Cultural Forum, New Museum Festival of Ideas NYC, Aalto University Helsinki, Harlem Stage NYC, Public Poet Ithaca Greece, New School for Social Research, Deep Listening Institute at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Poetry Center SFSU and the Robert Wilson Watermill Center.
To a great extent, as a basis, because the collectively-generated works of the Prosodic Body are multidisciplinary, multiracial, multilingual and multigenerational, the participants' coming together to create a working condition to address a need is the content of the Prosodic Body. As such the Prosodic Body is dedicated to undoing the divisiveness between not only people, but art and science, popular and refined, pure and applied, vibratory and visible, individual and social, as well as inner and environmental.
In 2008, to more extensively present the findings of the Prosody Body, Faïn and Kocik founded a performance group called The Commons Choir. For the first year of its existence, while working exclusively on the rudiments of prosody, the choir was named The Phoneme Choir, before branching into correlated fields, broadening its mission and morphing into the Commons Choir.