Saturday, September 22, 2007

Dance is a Discipline

Here are pictures left out of the English edition of Foucault's Discipline and Punish. You can see them all HERE.

Okay smarty pants, a few questions:
What does Foucault's section on docile bodies have to do with dance?
What does it have to do with technology?
What does it have to do with pedagogy?
What does it have to do with power and politics?
What kind of power does our dance technique give us?

Extra credit:
Find Arbeau's 1589 dance manual online.
Post some of its pictures and use some language to put it in the context Foucault's docile bodies.


sfr said...

Discipline has long been a qualifier of dance practice. One must have discipline to acheive technical prowess, etc. The order of the dance class creates a political body that exerts its discipline on the docile dancer body. By ordering time and space, the realms of physical existance, the dancer is subjected to the discipline of dance practice.
Dance in the perspective of Foucault's docile bodies is both like and unlike his prisons and more intrusive disciplinary forms. It seems intended that the practice of dance improves the dancers body. However, the dancer's body incurs injury from unhealthy practice and techniques that are "driven into" the body. Coercion drives the dancer to push the body to and beyond healthy, sustainable physical limits. I say these things in regards to the codified techniques.

Sarah A.O. Rosner/The AOMC said...

I think the thing that hit me most about the idea of discipline via the control of movements is how much i DIDN'T feel like it applied to my experience of dance. Granted, i've never been into ballet or even tap or jazz - some type that has a more intensely codified system with values of "wrong" or "right" attached - but i still think that what Foucault is saying COULD be true of modern dance. However, I really feel like (at least in the past few decades) so much of the focus in modern dance has shifted to ignite dialouges of personal quirk and freedom as well as ways in which dancers can retain autonomy over their role. What comes to mind for me is the way that the creative dance making process was once divided between the dancer and the choreographer - now it seems more and more that (some) choreographers find ways to make dances where either their dancers are part of the creative process, or where the have real time decision making power in the piece. One step further might be improvisation, a field where the entire entity is individually controlled. Even further could be contact improv, where no one (at times not even the individual!) is not in control of the movement. Exciting!