Key Concepts in Contemporary Dance


Suggested and articulated by the Going Ons

In his introduction to his latest book Singularities (2016), André Lepecki writes: "Only within dialogical proximity, intimacy between artistic and critical makings, can we find the necessary and pressing concepts needed to produce art, to compose dances, and to write theory—in rigorous coimagination." This premise underlies my joint endeavor with the Going-Ons in producing this assembly of subjective key concepts of contemporary dance. We used a list of key words – suggested by the students as prevalent in the contemporary dance discourse and requiring elaboration – as a score for reading and discussing dance (and) theory. We also tried out different ways of presenting what we had read, while trying to keep our understandings and insights vital and stimulating. Summarizing our discussions as key concepts stems from a similar desire and follows Lepecki's characterization of concepts:

As free things, concepts (and works of art) constantly evade reification. As the wild things they are, they resist subjection to fixity. Just as a choreographic work needs to rearticulate itself in every reiteration, to re-singularize itself, so must concepts, and the theoretical fields they generate, endure movements of rearticulation, calibration, adjustment.

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Reading list
Beavers, Wendell. "Re-locating technique." The body eclectic: Evolving practices in dance training (2008): 126-133.‏
Butler, Judith. "Performative acts and gender constitution: An essay in phenomenology and feminist theory." Theatre journal 40.4 (1988): 519-531.‏
Cvejic, Bojana. Choreographing problems: expressive concepts in contemporary dance and performance. Springer, 2016.‏
Fanon, Frantz. Black skin, white masks. Grove press, 2008.‏
Kleist, Heinrich von. "On the gradual production of thoughts whilst speaking." Selected writings (2004): 405-410.‏
Laermans, Rudi, and Carine Meulders. "The body is the re-/de-presentation, or what makes dance contemporary." (2009).‏ Available online at: http://sarma.be/docs/1299
Said, Edward. "Orientalism. 1978." New York: Vintage 199 (1979).‏

#contemporary dance

To define contemporary dance is an ambiguous quest.

It is an art form that needs to be experienced and perceived.

It is an investigation of abstract and concrete worlds represented through multiple mediums: movement, body, objects, relationship, space, sound, time, expression.

It plays with human perception.

It is the obsession of the NOW and NEW, the expression of what I was and what I am, it is ephemeral.

It is an attempt to reflect shades of this constantly changing world.

#gender

Thoughts on the body
and representations of the body

Contemporary dance, as microcosm of contemporary society is attempting to have a critical dialogue with reality. Therefore contemporary dance is not only cathartic representations of society, but also a realistic one, in all aspects of it. Categorizations and stereotypes are part of that field. Gender issues are one of them. Here are some questions and thoughts.

How does gender affect our behavior? How does gender affect our body language? How does the idea of gender dictate our body language?

Are we performing an idea? Are we performing a social construction? Are we performing gender?
“Genders are terms used to socially differentiate people into groups based on how their sexual identity is being performed. In western societies/cultures there are classically two genders, male and female, which are socially accepted. It is a recent development that the existence of more than two genders is being claimed and that these are openly lived and communicated. In some non-western societies like India or Pakistan, a third gender is known. Gender is a cultural phenomenon that is looked at and defined with great differences throughout historical periods and among different cultures. In most cases, one’s gender identity is made up by a mix of behaviours and appearance.”

“Gender is a categorisation of beings - imposed by society - in order to frame them and demand from them to behave in a specific way related to their sexuality. Behaviour, specific body languages, choices, tastes, roles in society etc. are the representation of the gender to which someone “belongs”."

“Gender is a term that separates humans according to their biological differences.”

“Gender is a personal decision of identity independent from any biological “fact”.”

“What is gender?
How to do things with words?
Let me try
Is it the need to fit in?
Is the song of Dylan “like a woman” a sexist song?
Am I feminist because I have hair under my armpit?
Or am I just using my freedom of having that choice?
Am I sexist thinking that the movie” Paris is burning” was a big circus?
Was I the only one feeling sad when that girl was screaming that she was free? To become a woman is it really like living the American dream?
While you are putting your make up can you also make up your mind?
How much exhausting must be?
To perform than just to be
We got so emotional about Jasmin. The representation of the woman from the east And what about the woman from west?
The woman that they want to be in order to feel free
But that’s for sure not me
Is it a boy or a girl? “it is what it is” I’m a tree
Lost at the space in between
Like when I tried to define what is contemporary But there is a statement on Rudi’s socks Fight like a girl
Or maybe if you look like a girl
They’ll step back
So no girl and no fight
And that’s also fine
We said with Vita we are not our bodies
So I am whoever and whatever I want
A pineapple
A frog
I don’t care so much... BUT
Is purple too feminine for you?”

... more key concepts to follow in a printed working book ###

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