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Inaugural seminar in dance

Join the inaugural seminar in dance held by Philipa Rothfield on Friday November 3 from 1 to 3 PM.

This is an invitation to the inaugural seminar "Philosophy of the body and dance" by Adjunct Professor Philipa Rothfield. 


The seminar will take place on Friday November 3rd from 1 to 3 PM. 

Location: Department of Sport Sciences and Clinical Biomechanics building 39, Lab for Play and Innovation, 

University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, DK-5000 Odense C 


This inaugural lecture in dance will be held as a seminar based on two coordinated papers by Philipa Rothfield and Susanne Ravn, respectively. Taken together, these papers will show the ways in which the body within dance can be seen in philosophical, cultural and corporeal terms. Their focus on the body – like the health sciences more generally - aims towards a better understanding of the corporeal dimen-sions of social and cultural life.



13.00–13.10: Welcome and introduction 

13.10–14.00: Philipa Rothfield,Honorary Senior Lecturer, Philosophy Program, La Trobe University, Melbourne, adjunct professor at SDUBetween the Foot and the Floor, Thinking Dance Through Merleau-Ponty and Nietzsche(abstract 1) 

(paper and discussion) 

14.00-14.40: Susanne Ravn,associate Professor, Head of Research Unit, Dep. of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics,SDU: On the expertise of giving up control - a phenomeno-logical exploration of dance improvisation (abstract 2) 

(paper and discussion) 

14.40 – 15.00: Shared discussion 

After the seminar, a reception will be held. 

If you wish to participate in the seminar, we kindly ask you to register here no later than October 20, 2017. 


Rothfield: Abstract 1 

This paper will work with and between two main paradigms of thought, one centred upon the subject (the dancer), the other focused on relations between bodies and forces (the dancing). Each is grounded in a particular mode of philosophical thinking. The paper aims to work these two paradigms in relation to dance practices that could be said to utilise the dancer as subject but also appeal to elements beyond the subject in their performative modes of elaboration. 

The paper begins with a discussion of difference, a key trope of thinking within cultural theory. In dance studies, difference has tended to be thought through notions of representation and/or phenomenologi-cal subjectivity. This paper will begin by outlining a phenomenological approach towards dance practice, which thinks movement in terms of the dancer’s subjectivity in action. It will then break with the phe-nomenological paradigm by invoking the Nietzschean critique of subjectivity, ultimately to offer a notion of diversity within dance practice which does not appeal to a metaphysics of the subject. 

Nietzsche deconstructed the givens of subjective experience so dear to phenomenology, in order to reveal the underlying activity of drives, forces, affects and impulses. Assisted by Deleuze’s reading of Nietzsche, the activity of dancing will be reframed in relation to these ideas. For Nietzsche, all activity, all becoming, arises out of relations between forces. The body becomes here a momentary configuration of force, to be found in the midst of movement. It is a mobile conception. 

Deleuze emphasises the difference between two types of force, active and reactive. In so doing, he gives a sense to Nietzsche’s claim that there is no doer (subject) behind the deed. His analysis claims a difference in kind between the ways in which forces resolve to produce a body as a mode of movement, and the ways in which they form the interior landscape of subjectivity. How is this distinction able to inform an approach to dance practice? What do we make of the Nietzschean deconstruction of subjectivity? 

Ravn: Abstract 2 

Movement expertise is often discussed in relation to the incorporated movement patterns and tech-niques of the skilled practitioner. However, as is generally recognized, any expert mover must also have the capability to act desirably – improvise in the best way – when situations develop in unpredictable ways. From a phenomenological stance, this paper focuses on the embodied expertise of dance improvi-sation with the aim of contributing to exploring and describing improvisation as an embodied expertise of movement-thinking. 

The paper begins by recognizing the diversity of ways in which dance improvisation is handled in a vari-ety of historical, cultural and environmental contexts. Drawing on recent phenomenological analyses, I continue by arguing that from an epistemological point of view, we can think of all dance as improvised, albeit in different degrees and in different ways. That said, the specificity of explicit improvisational settings and their attendant challenges and experiences would seem to express the need to explain why it still feels different to improvise compared to performing a set choreography. 

In the second part of the paper I argue that to understand improvisational expertise we need to take a closer look into the dancers’ sense of agency – and clarify the ways in which dancers can experience themselves as the author, whether partly as author or as author in a minimal sense of the actions per-formed. Following, amongst others, such as Malafouris’ (2009) descriptions of material agency, the ar-gumentation is based on that agency is not to be understood as something set and fixed in the brain – and nor does intentionality set and decide all our actions. Rather, actions and movements can arise (in minded ways) as based on kinetic, interactive as well as cognitive capabilities. Following this line of phenomenological argumentation, dance improvisation presents a unique kind of expertise in which the dancers deliberately de-center intentionality and involve in sharing the agency of the dancing unfolding.

Redaktionen afsluttet: 12.09.2017