Coventry – Lecture

Dance and Somatic Practice Conference, Coventry University, 6-9 July, 2017

Performance lecture: Carolien Hermans and Lisa Scheers

Where do the child and the animal meet in dance improvisation?

‘Take care of your animal body’ are the famous words of Steve Paxton. The concept of the animal body “refers to the presence of a being underlying the socialized self, a being underlying that part of the self which is expressed through verbal language, linear thought, and movement behavior appropriate to civilized spaces” (Lepkoff, 1998, p.1). In contrast to our culturally conditioned self, the animal self is a physical intelligence that consists of reflexes, instincts and primary movements – both learned and acquired. The animal body becomes accessible to us by play, as the energetic release of forces, weight and flow.

Paxton’s animal body resonates well with Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy (2005) . The animal body implies “a series of assemblages (agencements) between deterritorializing forces that are circulating on the edge of the human and the non-human, in order to make them indiscernible” (Beaulieu, 2011, p.7). It is in such a zone of proximity, of uncertainty, or of indetermination that becomings occur.

Children seem to be particularly sensitive to becomings (Deleuze & Guattari, 2005; Beaulieu, 2011): this is most noticeable in the way children try to be invisible and imperceptible (e.g. the seek and hide game) . During this performance lecture  my daughter, Lisa Scheers, hides herself in the space in such a way that she becomes invisible and visible at once. 

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