Poking While Sliding: Engaging Space
For most us, movement is understood in functional terms. We move through space in order to get somewhere; we stretch our arm and grasp in order to grab a cup of coffee. The space around us has been arranged to facilitate and sanction these types of movements. How can we unsettle the normalizing effects of this relationship and understand movement in a liberating way? Is this transgression even desirable? In this paper, I will suggest that the clues to these questions can be found in the choreographic works of Marie Chouinard and France Geoffroy, two Québec based artists.
First, I will examine Marie Chouinard’s latest work entitled `bODY_rEMIX/gOLDBERG_variations. The purpose of the piece is to explore ways in which the dancers engage the space around them. Chouinard wanted to extend the body of her dancers by using supports and the best ones proved to be established supports such as crutches and walkers. Although Chouinard explicitly refuses to consider the dance she choreographed as engaging issues of disability, one cannot help but question the ability/disability dichotomy because of the use of these supports. These may have been items of convenience, but they bring with them a discursive element that cannot be ignored. If the piece’s intended purpose is to destabilize space, it carries with it a message that has social implications.
Integrated dance is not a new movement and has explored such issues. However, I want compare and contrast the use of supports by Chouinard and Geoffroy in the second part of the paper. Geoffroy is the director as well as a disabled dancer of the company Corpuscule Danse. When Chouinard is using supports to poke and extend, she is directing our attention to these supports. However, Geoffroy brings our attention beyond the wheel chair to the dance itself. Whereas Chouinard forces us to see the supports and consider their implications for engaging space, Geoffroy asks us to go beyond the supports and see the implications for engaging dance itself.
These impulses of attention, integration, and erasure challenge our notions of how we engage space, not only in the way in which we move around in our daily activities but also how we understand the aesthetic qualities of movements. Such dances afford the viewer a time of reflection that will hopefully incite her to connect with movement and her environment in other ways.
Keywords: Dance, disability, space, movement
Dr. Monique Lanoix
Participant, Post-doctoral fellow, Dept. of philosophy, Dalhousie University