Body and Performance
My previous book, Nine Ways of Seeing a Body, has since become Volume 1 in a series called Ways of Being a Body. Volume 2, Body and Performance, was published on 28th June 2013. While I wrote the first book, this is a collection of 12 chapters that I edited.
Nine Ways of Seeing a Body was essentially a historical look at different approaches that have been taken towards the body over time. This new volume, Body and Performance, looks at a range of contemporary approaches to the body that are being used now by performers and/or in the context of performance.
All of these approaches are deeply practical (each of them has a mini case study to show its application in practice) but they all also have solid, theoretical underpinnings. They represent praxis: a bridge between theory and practice..
Many of these approaches have their roots in somatic practices (Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Method, Body-Mind Centering, for example) because that's where people have been doing much of the relevant the research. However the attention in each chapter here is on the application of that practice in performance.
Equally, each chapter pays attention to the practitioner/performer's 'being.becoming.being' rather than to ways in which the body can be improved, trained or enhanced. The skillful body, in performance terms, has released constraint or constriction rather than accumulated a set of techniques.
The intention is for dancers, performers, directors and choreographers to locate their own preferred approach(es) and lenses amongst those described here and to explore (using the case studies) alternatives that might enrich their performance vocabulary.
For academics/theorists, the collection should also provide a map which they can use to locate different approaches.
To read more about the book or to order a copy (for £15) visit the publisher's website. (You'll also find links to the Kindle and ePub versions, if you prefer.)
The image on the front of the book was painted by Greta Berlin in whose sculpture garden we normally move during Ecological Body workshop.
The Ontogenetic Body – our developmental processes give us a way to embody the forms, mind states and movement patterns of our cellular histories. Róisín O’Gorman explores movement and performance through Body-Mind Centering.
The Intersubjective Body looks at the relationship between dancing bodies and the environment. Natalie Garrett Brown discusses ideas of the body in flux, informed by Deleuze and Corporeal Feminism.
The Autobiographical Body - somatic performance practices treat autobiography as a fluid experience based on relationships with other people/places. Emma Meehan uses Object Relations to show how autobiography is 'negotiated'.
The Resonant Body - referring to ‘cellular-body-mindfulness’, Pam Woods provides insights into, her personal practice of ‘Sounding Dance Improvisation’.
The Learnt Body - Nicholas Hope proposes a training of the performer’s body that consciously transcends socially coded habits and movement patterns.
The Resilient Body – through the body's adaptive capacity, the performer can develop resilience and awareness. Campbell Edinborough begins from an analysis of the Feldenkrais Method.
The Imaginal Body – starting with the Alexander Technique, Niamh Dowling suggests using anatomical images, specific thinking, touch and visualisation to let go of habitual restrictive patterns.
The Kinetic Body - Arya Madhavan and Sreenath Nair investigate the nature of the actor/dancer’s presence through a range of vocabularies and practices derived from Indian martial arts and classical Sanskrit theatre known as kudiyattam.
The Cognitive Body – Kate Hunter uses Damasio’s body-minded brain and somatic marker hypothesis to articulate ways of physical devising for performance.
The Vocal Body - Konstantinos Thomaidis moves beyond the idea of the body as homebase of vocal emission and offers an integrative approach to physiovocal unity.
The Dwelling Body – Suze Adams sees the practitioner as a conduit: experiencing body and place as always in process and recognising the inter-relationship of place and identity.
The Musical Body – Imogene Newland and Franziska Schroeder's re-intepretation of Stockhausen’s Tierkreis offers a physical approach to performance where the body is the driving force behind musical interpretation.
Order a copy from the publisher