Choreographing Society

A special issue of Arts (ISSN 2076-0752).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 March 2024) | Viewed by 9479

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Dance Program, Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA
Interests: Performance Studies, Asian Theatre and Dance Performance, Gender Performance in Dance and Theatre, Ritual Performance, Dance and Religion, Dance Ethnography, Dance History and Theory, Asian/Indian Dance in the Diaspora

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Arts Journal invites papers for a Special Issue on Dance, Choreographing Society

Choreographing Society

Dance is one of the few mediums distilled with the transparency and trajectory of our social, environmental, political, familial, physical, and psychological experiences. It reflects how we implicitly and explicitly imagine and perceive the societies and communities we dwell in and aspire to create. Dance provides a record of who we are and where we go from here. How are dancers, choreographers and interacting spectators representing, creating, and/or transforming the hybrid, intercultural, and social environments we inhabit? How are artistic activities within individual societies impacted by these ever-changing environs? How can choreographic methodologies facilitate powerful social structures of political and racial activism and forms of resistance? What are the practical, theoretical, and pedagogical approaches to choreographic methodologies and aesthetics that are vulnerable to and challenged by global socio-cultural, political, racial, and commercial forces?

Social Choreography, an emerging interdisciplinary practice-based methodology, seeks to create deeper awareness exploring latent, social, racial, political, and environmental stimuli on the physical and causal body. Operating within the macro- and micro-spheres of the body, it seeks to surface, engage, and transform interactive assumptions about the self, identity, society, and the environment. Social Choreography, therefore, is witness to distinct and dynamic movement cultures expressed through generational representations in the everyday. The choreographic methodology engages the participants’ perception, beliefs, sensual imprints, and experiential knowledge in assembling building-blocks of movement or non-movement as the case may be. How do we utilize social choreography in the age of supersonic technological developments, political resistance, distrust and turbulations, corporate imperialism, racial activism, and insecure livelihoods? How can dance pedagogy inspire younger generations to stretch across and beyond existing movement systems and conceptual frameworks to reimagine collective, transformative, collaborative, and compassionate societies and communities?

Please respond with a 100 word abstract by the deadline sent to me.

Dr. Purnima Shah
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • dance in society
  • social choreography
  • dance and social activism

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

10 pages, 231 KiB  
Article
Social Choreography as a Cultural Commoning Practice: Becoming Part of Urban Transformation in Une danse ancienne
by Johanna Hilari and Julia Wehren
Arts 2024, 13(2), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13020070 - 09 Apr 2024
Viewed by 226
Abstract
This article examines social choreography as a cultural commoning practice that is embedded within a relational structure between different institutions, the people involved, and specific socio-cultural contexts. The artistic research project Une danse ancienne by French choreographer Rémy Héritier and their team is [...] Read more.
This article examines social choreography as a cultural commoning practice that is embedded within a relational structure between different institutions, the people involved, and specific socio-cultural contexts. The artistic research project Une danse ancienne by French choreographer Rémy Héritier and their team is presented as a case study of this practice. This collaborative choreography is based on a dance performance and social gathering that is reactivated every year by the same dancer in the same peri-urban site in a metropolitan area of Lausanne, Switzerland. Une danse ancienne holds strong relationships to temporalities, to the changing urban space, and to communal processes of documentation. Its relational choreographic structure and sharing practices are analyzed against the concepts of ‘expanded choreography’ and ‘cultural commoning’. This article, therefore, discusses social choreography as a cultural commoning practice that involves interactions with different social groups and institutions and practices of sharing and communal documentation. This article shows how, as social choreography, Une danse ancienne reflects upon urban transformation through cultural commoning practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Choreographing Society)
13 pages, 258 KiB  
Article
Rethinking Conceptual Parameters of Choreography (in Social Spaces)—Actualization of Intensities in Discursive Fields
by Kirsi Monni
Arts 2024, 13(2), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13020059 - 21 Mar 2024
Viewed by 533
Abstract
This article aims to take part in the ongoing discussion on the social and political potentialities as well as the conceptual premises of choreography and to contribute to the discussion about world relations in the choreographed movement. The much-used definition of Western choreography [...] Read more.
This article aims to take part in the ongoing discussion on the social and political potentialities as well as the conceptual premises of choreography and to contribute to the discussion about world relations in the choreographed movement. The much-used definition of Western choreography is “organized movement in space and time”. Although this definition always applies, it does not specify the world relations and worldmaking capacities of the choreographed movement. The main focus of this article is an ontological rethinking of the basic concepts of choreography: movement, space, time and organization, with the addition of kinaesthetic fields, kinaesthetic and spatial intelligence, virtual and actual realms, striated and smooth spaces (Deleuze and Guattari) and different conceptions of time. By analyzing these concepts, the aim is to provide a view of ontologically elementary units in choreography (such as a change in space, the difference over time and space, and passage to shared actuality), with a wider understanding of the inherent social relationality in choreographed movement. After discussing these topics, a few social choreography events and protests are described to represent different choreographic aims and organizational modes arising from each specific situation. The article concludes by proposing that choreography could be seen as organizing movement in space and time but also as a choreographic actualization of intensities in different discursive fields. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Choreographing Society)
13 pages, 219 KiB  
Article
Nandanar: Visibilizing Caste in Bharatanatyam Performance
by Preethi Ramaprasad
Arts 2024, 13(2), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13020055 - 12 Mar 2024
Viewed by 686
Abstract
What are the implications of a bejeweled dancer in fine silk on the proscenium stage performing a piece that undeniably centers caste? As the Bharatanatyam field reflects on the art form’s appropriation from the hereditary dance community, analyzing choreography reveals different bodily representations [...] Read more.
What are the implications of a bejeweled dancer in fine silk on the proscenium stage performing a piece that undeniably centers caste? As the Bharatanatyam field reflects on the art form’s appropriation from the hereditary dance community, analyzing choreography reveals different bodily representations of caste. Many Bharatanatyam dancers globally perform excerpts of the Nandanar Charitram, by Tamil composer Gopalakrishna Bharathi. The plot traces Nandanar, a Dalit saint who is not allowed in many temples and ends with his immolation, allowing his “purified” self to unite with the Hindu god Shiva. I study performances of the Nandanar Charitram comparing two Bharatanatyam showings and the 1942 film “Nandanar”. To recognize how caste is both articulated and understood, I analyze choreography, interviews conducted with dancers, and forums where audience members share their responses to the works. I use Judith Butler and Dwight Conquergood’s theorization of performativity, acknowledging that while Bharatanatyam choreography is often “iterative”, it has the potential to “disrupt” dominant norms on caste and politics. Nandanar remains the most prominent Dalit figure seen in the Bharatanatyam repertoire. By studying representations of his story, I highlight the relevance of bodily caste politics in the South Asian diaspora today. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Choreographing Society)
10 pages, 176 KiB  
Article
Choreographing Social Memories: Healing and Collective Imagining in Eiko Otake and Wen Hui’s Artistic Collaboration
by Jingqiu Guan
Arts 2024, 13(1), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13010028 - 06 Feb 2024
Viewed by 904
Abstract
This article explores the first-time choreographic collaboration between Eiko Otake, a renowned Japanese dance artist, and Wen Hui, a celebrated Chinese choreographer and filmmaker, which took place in mainland China in January of 2020. The outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan compelled Otake [...] Read more.
This article explores the first-time choreographic collaboration between Eiko Otake, a renowned Japanese dance artist, and Wen Hui, a celebrated Chinese choreographer and filmmaker, which took place in mainland China in January of 2020. The outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan compelled Otake to return to the US prematurely, and the subsequent global pandemic led the two artists to continue working together through the computer screen. Constructed from daily footage of Wen and Otake moving together, conversing about their personal histories and choreographic works, and visiting the Nanjing Massacre Memorial, the resulting documentary film No Rule Is Our Rule (2023, 74 min) offers a poignant portrayal of their creative process, which places utmost importance on honesty and openness. Through an in-depth analysis of their artistic exploration presented through the film, the article examines how their collaborative endeavor which prioritizes corporeal interaction and unfiltered dialogues can be conceived as a form of mediated social choreography. I argue that their embodied methodology, grounded in the interweaving of personal and social memories, points to the potential for collective healing from the tension and trauma in Sino-Japanese history and promotes collective imagining through intercultural dialogues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Choreographing Society)
8 pages, 189 KiB  
Article
White Atmospheres: Choreographing Racial Materialities in Academic Space
by Ben Spatz
Arts 2024, 13(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13010024 - 30 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1812
Abstract
This essay offers a critical introduction to the circulation of racial materialities, and especially whiteness, in North American and European academic contexts. It proposes that we can escape from the dominant epistemology of identity as a fixed attribute of individuals without losing the [...] Read more.
This essay offers a critical introduction to the circulation of racial materialities, and especially whiteness, in North American and European academic contexts. It proposes that we can escape from the dominant epistemology of identity as a fixed attribute of individuals without losing the urgent and much-needed analytics of identity as social and material force. In the gap between “identity politics” and a richer critical politics of identity lies the difference between a discursive public sphere of agonistic conflict and one of potentially transformative relationality. Drawing on critical race theory and especially black radical thought, my analysis rejects the reduction of identity to discrete census categories and attempts to situate contemporary scholarly practices in the context of a planetary decolonial movement. If “identity” today is all too frequently dismissed by a methodological whiteness that strictly separates it from materiality, politics, and knowledge, then a dramaturgical or choreographic analytics of race might better address how racial materialities operate both above and below the level of individual bodies, subjects, and citizens. Synthesizing practical insights from artistic research and performing arts with critical theories of race and identity, this essay refers to some of the author’s recent personal experiences at academic events in order to describe and analyze whiteness as a form of social choreography. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Choreographing Society)
20 pages, 4929 KiB  
Article
How to Choreograph a Socialist Society?
by Filip Petkovski
Arts 2024, 13(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13010015 - 11 Jan 2024
Viewed by 1592
Abstract
During the existence of Yugoslavia (1945–1991), the leading political ideology of “brotherhood and unity” had to be manifested in all forms of cultural life. Promoting the physically capable body as part of a larger cultural movement, Yugoslavia witnessed the transformation of physical daily [...] Read more.
During the existence of Yugoslavia (1945–1991), the leading political ideology of “brotherhood and unity” had to be manifested in all forms of cultural life. Promoting the physically capable body as part of a larger cultural movement, Yugoslavia witnessed the transformation of physical daily regimens into mass bodily spectacles performed at stadiums, called sletovi, demonstrating the power of mass-choreographed discipline. Similarly, Yugoslav choreographers were encouraged to develop a distinct performance aesthetic based on stylization as a rhetoric for modernization, using folk dance as a medium to showcase and promote the collective body of the people through choreographed folklore spectacles. Focusing on these two case studies that exemplify how mass choreography was used as a strategy to choreograph the Yugoslav society, this paper analyzes how political ideologies and their constructions through physicality supported the Yugoslav state project, thereby pointing to the present-day remnants of these aesthetics in the post-Yugoslav republics, evident in mass protests. By utilizing archival and choreographic analysis, I demonstrate how movement and dance impacted the public understanding of unity and helped the creation of a Yugoslav socialist society, drawing from Andrew Hewitt’s thesis on “social choreography”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Choreographing Society)
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16 pages, 330 KiB  
Article
Choreographing Multiraciality: Mixed-Race Methods in North American Contemporary Dance
by Miya Shaffer
Arts 2024, 13(1), 10; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13010010 - 30 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1317
Abstract
Multiracialism, or the concept of “mixed-race”, remains a key racial discourse within twenty-first-century North American societies. Scholarly and mainstream studies of multiracial people often highlight the function of speech in theorizing mixed-race experiences, where interviews or other first-person narratives resist racialized stereotypes and [...] Read more.
Multiracialism, or the concept of “mixed-race”, remains a key racial discourse within twenty-first-century North American societies. Scholarly and mainstream studies of multiracial people often highlight the function of speech in theorizing mixed-race experiences, where interviews or other first-person narratives resist racialized stereotypes and express complex multiracial identities. Yet these studies often overlook the body as a comparable analytical site, ignoring how the body’s mobilization—in dance, choreography, and everyday actions—might further nuance mixed-race subjecthood. My article emphasizes experimental dance and choreography as alternative methods for imagining multiracial subjects, where these body-based approaches reject both stereotypical depictions of multiracial people in mainstream media and “transparent” representations in interviews. Drawing on the concept of “opacity,” which describes unknowable, illegible difference, I propose that experimental dance enables the expression of “opaque” multiracial subjectivities. This article then offers a choreographic analysis of Glenn Potter-Takata’s Yonsei f*ck f*ck, an experimental dance that produces opacities for its performers, who are of mixed Japanese heritage. Through movement scores, stand-up comedy, and a re-created “late-night” talk show, the dance invites audiences to move beyond the desire to recognize, categorize, and “know” the mixed-race Asian American performer. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Choreographing Society)
11 pages, 188 KiB  
Article
Trauma Responses in Social Choreography: Accessing Agency and Opportunities for Healing through Mindful Embodiment
by Catherine Cabeen
Arts 2024, 13(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/arts13010004 (registering DOI) - 21 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1217
Abstract
This article responds to the questions: how does trauma that is long-held in the body affect social choreography? And how can awareness of this intersection guide us towards individual and collective healing practices? Embodied trauma responses, commonly referred to as fight, flight, freeze, [...] Read more.
This article responds to the questions: how does trauma that is long-held in the body affect social choreography? And how can awareness of this intersection guide us towards individual and collective healing practices? Embodied trauma responses, commonly referred to as fight, flight, freeze, and dissociation, initially function as potentially lifesaving responses to external threats but all too often become engrained in how people move through the world and relate to one another. When these patterns of engagement become habituated, they affect the improvisational scores inherent to social choreography. Exploring trauma responses through the lens of social choreography invites increased awareness of how these patterns of behavior affect our relationships and communities. Through this awareness, the possibility of agency is increased. This essay continues the work of somatic and cultural scholars Resmaa Menakem, Staci K. Haines, and Zhiwa Woodbury, among others, whose research points to multiple continuums between how trauma is individually embodied and cultural dynamics we are experiencing globally. Drawing on the somatic work of Peter Levine and Bessel Van der Kolk, whose theories have revolutionized trauma healing, this essay offers accessible pathways to trauma sensitivity that readers can experiment with to consciously refine their own roles in social choreographies ranging from interpersonal to cultural interactions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Choreographing Society)
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