The thesis that social phenomena permeate and shape human bodies is common knowledge since Mauss and later Foucault investigated the social nature of our habitus (acquired abilities). Our contemporary bodies are more than ever inscribed by culture, constrained by the geopolitical environment and moulded by the social media patterns. More than ever, the body is receiving intensified scrutiny in order to better expose it to mass culture and pl(a)y it to the all mighty consumerism. Undoubtedly, the body senses, and when it does, the selves (our energies, behaviours, desires) suffer.
“A body can become speaking, thinking, dreaming, imagining. It always senses something. It senses everything corporeal. It senses skins and stones, metals, grasses, waters, and flames. It doesn’t stop sensing.” — Jean-Luc Nancy, Corpus
With this issue, we attempt to explore the patent interwovenness of the socioculturated bodies with the dancing (performing) body. We look to what extent the dancing body mirrors, deliberately or not, the societal and political challenges of our world. Not that this interrogation would be new. Starting with the late 19th century ballet airy virtuosic body hinting at the nascent bourgeois’ dreams of social evasion and finishing with the saccadic defiant hip hop body epitomising the dominating social disarray and the shattering of the American dream, one would end up knowing as much on the history of dance than on our society. No wonder some of us dream of seeing the revival of the Duncan-Fuller-Saint Denis dances to remind us that the ambient prevailing puritanism is, as it has always been, mere hypocrisy.
We have invited our contributors to reflect to a slightly different angle – we wondered what kind of mirror is the body of a dancer today, now. To what extent is it given the space to be permeated by socio-political events? To what extent can it encourage political analysis and societal thought? How vigorous is the meaning that it chooses to convey? Bodies aren’t some kind of fullness or filled space, as Jean-Luc Nancy rightfully pointed out. ‘They are open spaces, implying, in some sense, a space more spacious than spatial, what could also be called a place. Bodies are places of existence, and nothing exists without a place, a there, a “here,” a “here is,” for a this.’
With this issue we are precisely examining what this is.