Solo dancing and ecologies of plurality

Perazzo Domm, Daniela (2021) Solo dancing and ecologies of plurality. In: IFTR Galway 2021 : Theatre Ecologies : Environments, Sustainability and Politics; 12 - 16 Jul 2021, Galway, Ireland (Held online). (Unpublished)


In this paper, I wish to consider the potential of the choreographic format of solo dancing to become, paradoxically, a site for the exploration of multiple subject positions. Thinking through conceptualisations of the plurality and differentiation of existence – from Rosi Braidotti’s (1994) theory of nomadic subjectivity to Roberto Esposito’s rethinking of the notion of personhood (2012) – I attend to the compositional, performative and affective modalities through which solo dancing can reveal a commitment, both aesthetic and political, to the articulation of the subject as multiple. Through these considerations, solo dancing is conceptualised in this paper as contributing not only to a poetics but also to an ecology of plurality, here understood as a critical response to the flattening and isolation of the neoliberal individual. In times of multimediality and globalisation, I suggest that solo dancing, although imbricated in practices of performing the self, can fulfil a function that both overlaps with and exceeds stylistic gestures of self-presentation and visceral gestures of self-expression. Perhaps controversially, due to recent performance criticism’s disavowal of textual approaches, I will reflect on the extent to which solo dancing, like (a certain use of) language in contemporary literature, can become ‘the form of a pure multiplicity’ (Esposito, 2012: 134), ‘a site of multiple others’ (Braidotti, 2014: 164), a field of intensity in which the place of the subject is both unclaimed and made available to different voices. In exploring the complex ways in which the dancing of a solo performer can debunk the contradiction between its perceived singularity and its potential plurality, I will examine in particular the solo work Beat (2019) by Igor and Moreno in which Margherita Elliot’s relentless dancing to electronic music materialises on stage many selves, offered to the audience in a mesmerising set of affectively and politically powerful frames of possibility. These are not stable images, but rather slippery yet powerful impressions that inevitably fade into the next. As the dancer incessantly reinvents her body’s vocabulary and modes of address, her personal boundaries dissolve – as in Italian novelist Elena Ferrante’s concept of ‘smarginatura’, the condition of pushing dangerously towards the edges of one’s self.

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