"Physical and Aesthetic Properties in Dance" Julia Beauquel
THIS PAPER IS PUBLISHED IN THE VOLUME "THINKING THROUGH DANCE, The Philosophy of Dance Performance and Practices", Ed. by Jenny Bunker, Anna Pakes and Bonnie Rowell, Dance Books, 2013.
Dance as art has been philosophically characterized as involving the natural expressiveness of human movements. But while some authors find the defense of expressiveness essential, others claim that it is not relevant to the understanding of dance and favour instead a focus on style, a supposedly more significant artistic feature. This paper is an attempt to provide an alternative account to both these positions, with the first (namely, that the dancers are supposed to convey emotions to us by their naturally expressive movements) seeming too naturalistic and the second (that dance only consists in the performance of complicated gestures of a certain style) overly stylistic. The aim here is to consider the bodily movements neither from the perspective of spectators ‘naively’ attributing some naturally expressive properties to a dance, nor from the point of view of dancers whose main intention is to correctly perform a set of specific technical gestures. As we will see, dance cannot be properly analyzed by means of concepts implying a radical bifurcation of nature and culture, or of the audience’s appreciation and the artists’ intention.
The full paper is attached here