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The Body and the Intellectual

The Body and the Intellectual

Sporton, Gregory (2017) The Body and the Intellectual. Scene, 5 (2). pp. 115-126. ISSN 2044-3714 (doi:

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Some 30 years ago, dancers Gregory Sporton and Sandra Norman collaborated on a stylish duet ‘Double Take’, subsequently performed around New Zealand during 1986 for a small contemporary dance company. An invitation to attend a reunion of former dancers from the company in 2016 prompted a search for video material from the time. This unearthed some material that surprised both the dancers with its clarity and completeness. They decided to rework the dance thirty years on. This paper is about the reflections on this process, about how the intervening years have altered the bodies and the work, and how they extended the dance into a new iteration. It also includes further reflective commentary on how the two worlds in which Sporton has operated, performance and academia, fit together. The case is put that the intellectual and analytical project of dance academics has failed, and that there should now be some revision of the point of departure that it took: Cartesian dualism. It is argued that from Descartes very limited understanding of the body, a dominant tradition has emerged that seeks to explain away dance as a manifestation of the intellectual. It is counterposed to Descartes’ contemporary, Vico, who thought the sensual and bodily was the core of existence, accepting the interrelation of thought and life as the mode of being. This leads to a discussion about what constitutes the stuff of dance, and how an alternative tradition acknowledges expression as at its best when it avoids philosophy altogether. When Norman says in rehearsals ‘you can’t think and breathe at the same time’, she identifies the locus of knowledge about a dance as situated in the doing of it.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: performance, dance, physicality, dualism
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > Digital Arts, Research & Enterprise (DARE)
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2019 01:38

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