Posts Tagged ‘Foucault’

Scholar’s Corner: BODY KNOWLEDGE AND CONTROL


evans

Given the recent focus on embodied knowledge in dance and dance studies, I would like to draw attention to the field of physical education. Both dance and “physical education” are founded on the notion of education through and of the body. It is also true that in many schools and colleges one can get “phys. ed.” credit for taking dance classes. Yet the world of professional and experimental dance still feels very divorced from the world of physical education.

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masculinity as a lineage of technique

Tomorrow is the symposium on Masculinity and Embodied Practice. Apart from a problem with the digital projector, everything is going smoothly, and I am looking forward to an extremely interesting set of paper, presentations, and performances.

In my academic work, I am trying to re-theorize “technique” as something much deeper and more complicated than is usually assumed. Given how fundamental technique is in the performing arts, it is surprising how little it has been theorized. As far as I know, Foucault is the only major theorist to have written extensively on bodily techniques, and that from a perspective of domination and social networks of power rather than on the craft developed by practitioners of embodied forms.

A word, then, about masculinity as technique.

Let us compare masculinity with ballet. There are many iconic images of ballet, but ballet is not fundamentally an image. Nor is it fundamentally a language, even though some aspects of ballet seem to work like semiotics. Once upon a time, in Euro culture, ballet was dance and dance was ballet. Ballet, then, is the name for what people used to do when they danced. It also names a complex legacy of teachers and students, performers and choreographers, painters and royalty.

What if masculinity is not a single role or image, not a biological category, and not a universal signifier… but rather, like ballet, a powerful historical and formerly hegemonic lineage of embodied technique?

Ben Spatz
Artistic Director
Urban Research Theater
MR-AIR 2010-2012

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