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Schooling an ensemble: The Forsythe Company’s Whole in the Head

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This embedded ethnographic study focuses on The Forsythe Company’s 2010 creation of Whole in the Head, the cast of which brought already-expert new dancers into collaboration with experienced ensemble veterans. The devising practice during the making of this ‘Schulwerk’ yielded teaching and learning opportunities to all of the participants, whilst the emergent and distributed opportunities afforded by the devising context scaffolded the ensemble’s development as a complicit, choreographically productive community informed by specific somatic approaches to movement generation. Moving among unexpected etymological linkages of the term skill across languages, the analysis shows how the devising process of this work enhanced crucial expert-specific skills across the full ensemble, inviting consideration of the nature of skill and its expansion within communities of experts.
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Keywords: collaboration; complicity; dance; devising; expertise; skill

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Kent

Publication date: December 1, 2018

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  • This journal focuses on the relationship between dance and somatic practices, and the influence of this body of practice on the wider performing arts. The journal will be aimed at scholars and artists, providing a space for practitioners and theorists to debate the work, to consider the impact and influence of the work on performance, the interventions that somatic practices can have on other disciplines and the implications for research and teaching.
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