Performance Studies: The Body as an Environment within a greater Environment / Musics, Rhythms, Temporalities: Moving in Time in the Ballet Class
The Body as an Environment within a greater Environment
A presentation by Tess de Quincey
Abstract: The proposition of the Body as an Environment within a greater Environment is a definition that evolved in my early days of leading Body Weather investigations in Australia, and which has gradually become pivotal in my understanding of the practice. Unpacking this term now, I explore how the understanding of an ‘environment’ arises in the sensory language of the body and relates to spoken and written language. How these understandings relate to materiality and lived experience and, further, to the more-than-human world brings us to ecological, philosophical and linguistic perspectives. Meanwhile a recently developed new map of the Critical Zone of life enables the discernment of the complex, fluid and spiralling actions of the life systems that shape us, but also now – are shaped by us. I ask whether this new mapping has similarities with previously existing Body Weather research processes and how those in the future might take reference to this mapping. Plunging further into biology with reference to Jacob von Uexküll, the Umwelt, or perception worlds, of non-human organisms led von Uexküll to bio-semiotics. Here, focus is on communicative processes and signs of meaning at a molecular level within living organisms, which I propose finds resonance with Body Weather practice and a ‘body-mind’ as an environment within the greater ecosphere.
Tess de Quincey is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney. She is a dancer, choreographer and director who has worked in Europe, Japan, India, the UK and Australia. Her experience as a dancer with Min Tanaka and his Mai-Juku performance group in Japan for six years 1985-91 has provided the main influence on her performance work based in the Body Weather practice founded by Min and Mai-Juku. In 2000 Tess formed De Quincey Co which is an Australian company conducting performances, training and research. Her research is upon: the body as an environment interconnecting with a greater environment; awareness as co-constituted interconnecting the human and non-human; imagination as a physical and metaphysical bearer of history and future; ethics of the larger human and non-human world within and around us, integrated and co-determined by our environment.
Musics, Rhythms, Temporalities: Moving in Time in the Ballet Class
A presentation by Franky Ferrer-Best
Abstract: In this excerpt from a draft chapter of my thesis, I use morning company class as a repeated event to examine ballet dancers’ day-to-day experiences, drawing from material gathered from my observations of class at two different ballet companies and several sets of interviews with dancers. For the purposes of thinking through what is fundamental to dancers’ experience of class, indeed the act of ballet dancing itself, I will work with the idea of the ballet class as an assemblage, borrowing from the work of Gilles Deleuze both independently and with Felix Guattari. To borrow from Elizabeth Grosz for a succinct description, “assemblages are the provisional linkages of elements, fragments, flows, of disparate status and substance: ideas, things¾human, animate, and inanimate¾all have the same ontological status” (167). Using this conceptual framework, I aim to show that in the context of the ballet class, dancers are not separate from each other, nor from the other elements of the studio or indeed the materiality of the studio itself. Most significantly, though perhaps it seems obvious, I claim that dancers’ experience of dancing cannot be separated from music and rhythm. This claim can be pulled apart to reveal different aspects of the ballet class experience: moving in time with others and music, and becoming-music, or losing oneself in it.
Franky Ferrer-Best (she/ her) is a PhD candidate with the department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney. Her doctoral research is motivated by the academic tendency towards pathologising ballet dancers, and aims to unearth and communicate ballet dancers’ experiences in an in- depth, embodied analysis of how they interface with the world. Her interests include embodiment, movement cultures, and altered bodily states. She is also involved in the independent dance-making community in Sydney.
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