Philosophical Pursuits in Dance Practice of the 21st Century: Body Concepts
The art of performance dance in the 20th century is undergoing a transformation involving values, concepts, and styles that are quite distinct from the traditional principles of classical art dance. This turn, beginning around the middle of the 20th century, has found expression in a “radical shift” in terms of the form and content of dance, affecting its components, nature, and purpose; therefore, it is not surprising that the quest for new conceptual foundations acquired its own outlook not only, and not so much in art criticism as in philosophical terms. It can be said that the epicentre of these shifts was a new understanding of the dancing body itself. The diversity of practices – dance theatre, physical theatre, dance performance, non-dance movement, postmodern dance, contemporary dance – have in turn become ways of embodying these new bodily concepts. Of course, the primary results of this quest have had a non-verbal character; nevertheless, in general terms, the level of “conversation” allows us to perceive the philosophical concepts underlying the discoveries made.
The task of this article is to clarify these concepts through examining changes ideas about the body within dance culture over the course of the last century. The examination is carried out sequentially through the ages of the twentieth century: the development of new conceptual directions of the body in the dance practices of Western countries are shown, referring each movement to precisely the process from which it respectively proceeded. Thus, the body seen as a means, an “instrument”, for the transmission of higher spiritual meanings, as was generally the case in classical dance, becomes in itself the goal and subject of special interest. Here it is as a space of freedom and a field for unravelling unconscious (psychosomatic) aspects, both in terms of the vehicle of sociality, and as its construct, that awareness of the normative practices of body as a repression of social control can be observed. It is clear that the basic “narratives” identified in the article also unfold in the philosophical studies of the 20th and 21st centuries. Thus, the parallel nature of these processes testifies to a cardinal revision by European society of its physicality.
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