Justus-Liebig-Universität GießenInstitut für Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft
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What do we train for? Techniques of the body in Contemporary Dance


MA CUP 02/07/08/09
MA ATW 01/04
BA ATW 04/05

Technique hasn't been a popular term in Contemporary Dance, we rather talk about practices today. But if we do consider the meaning of the term, we can assume that behind each practice there is a technique. A practice is the realization of a technique, the two terms name different forms of knowledge but belong together. In the last years, many choreographers have turned towards movement techniques from other realms to escape the curse of old-fashioned dance techniques. Others have chosen to work with the principle of improvisation, hoping to elude the discourse. How can we conceptualize technique (of the body) in Contemporary Dance today? In this seminar, we will explore the theoretical implications of physical practices, using the term 'technique of the body', which was established by the French sociologist and anthropologist Marcel Mauss. Reading Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, we will trace the history of the concept to develop an awareness for the embeddedness of physical practices. In a second step, we will analyze works in which choreographers appropriate unfamiliar techniques (for example from the realm of fitness or circus) to explore how these techniques are applied artistically. Then we will discuss, in what way the concept of technique (of the body) could be useful in the context of dance- and performance-making nowadays.