The Anarchive of Contemporary Dance

Toward a topographic understanding of choreography

Authored by: Timmy De Laet

The Routledge Companion to Dance Studies

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138234581
eBook ISBN: 9781315306551
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315306551-12

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Abstract

Around the turn of the millennium, a so-called “archival turn” (Stoler 2009, 44) placed itself amidst the already dazzling array of turns (linguistic, spatial, cognitive, materialist, etc.) that punctuated critical thought throughout the twentieth century. Calling attention to the manner in which the archive provides a material basis for thinking yet also functions as a discursive figure of thought (O’Driscoll 2002), the archival turn also affected the field of contemporary choreography and dance studies. For practitioners and scholars, it became increasingly urgent to ask how an embodied art form such as dance can be archived in a way that is not only enduring, but which can also accommodate the ever-changing nature and physicality that typify dance. By turning and returning to the archive, a significant number of choreographers have sought to undo the pervasive belief that dance, because of its reliance on the living body and embodied movement, is a notoriously ephemeral artistic practice too elusive for preservation through traditional archival resources such as photographs, written text, or recordings.

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