Thinking through Dance: The Philosophy of Dance Performance and Practices

26 February 2011
Roehampton University

Thinking through Dance conference flier, 2011
Click to enlarge conference flier
This conference explored the philosophical questions raised by and in dance. Relatively under-theorised as it has been in the history of aesthetics, dance presents fertile ground for philosophical enquiry. The conference enabled dialogue about dance between different philosophical traditions, and examined a range of themes including: dance and embodiment, dance meaning and artistic intention, expressivity and the dancing body, representation in dance, the ontology of dance, authentic performance, and dance at the intersection of analytic and continental philosophy.

The conference was a response to both student interest and evidence of the inclusion of dance in mainstream philosophical consideration of the arts. The call for papers yielded 78 proposals from five continents. Twenty of these were selected for the conference, which was attended by 108 delegates from both dance studies and philosophy.

Fourteen of the conference papers were subsequently developed into chapters for the edited book Thinking through Dance: The Philosophy of Dance Performance and Practices (eds Bunker, J., Pakes, A. & Rowell, B., 2013), published by Dance Books.


Keynote 1

  • Graham McFee (Brighton/California State): ‘Admirable legs’: or the dancer’s importance for the dance
  • Chair: Andrée Grau

Session 1A: Dance and/as Philosophy

  • Janet Lansdale (Surrey): Engaging Imaginatively with a Dance
  • Kristin Boyce (Stanford): Re-Thinking the Philosophy of Dance
  • Efrosini Protopapa (Surrey): Choreography as Philosophy
  • Chair: Jenny Bunker

Session 1B: Minds, Brains & Dancing Bodies

  • Jonathan Owen Clark (Trinity Laban): Dance, Lacan & Phenomenology
  • Jane Carr (Lincoln): Embodiment & the Puzzle of the Dancer’s Agency
  • Inma Alvarez (Open University): Perceiving the Dancing Body
  • Chair: Anna Pakes

Session 1C: Dance, Space, Time

  • Susanne Ravn (Odense): Creating space(s), shaping interactions
  • Elisabeth Van Dam (Ghent): of Space. of time. Kant’s Transcendental Aesthetics as receptacle for the manifold of the dance
  • Larraine Nicholas (Roehampton): Dance and the historical imagination
  • Chair: Geraldine Morris

Keynote 2

  • Noel Carroll (CUNY): Expression, Music and Dance
  • Chair: Raj Sehgal

Session 2A: Bodies, Persons & Dance Action

  • Raf Geenens (Leuven): Bodies and Movements or persons and
  • Julia Beauquel (Nancy): Physical and Aesthetic Properties in Dance
  • Ruth Pethybridge (Falmouth): Relating to Age: performances of singularity in cross-generational dance practice
  • Chair: Sara Houston

Session 2B: Dance Ontology & Identity

  • Anna Pakes (Roehampton): The plausibility of a Platonist ontology of dance
  • Renée Conroy (Purdue): Toward a continuity theory of dancework identity
  • Geraldine Morris (Roehampton): What do performers think they are doing when they perform a dance? Interpretation and intention in ballet
  • Chair: Bonnie Rowell

Session 2C: Meaning, dance and art

  • Henrietta Bannerman (LCDS): Dance and representation: The symbol and beyond
  • Nigel Stewart (Lancaster): Dance and the Event: John Jasperse’s Giant Empty and the Disclosure of Being
  • Catherine Botha (Johannesburg): Dance and/as art: Considering Nietzsche and Badiou
  • Chair: Larraine Nicholas


American Airlines, British Society of Aesthetics, Society for Dance Research, The Royal Institute of Philosophy