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The critical potential of somatic collectivity under post-Fordism

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The last decade of scholarship in dance has produced a number of literary contributions which account for the need to theorize the radical potential of dance as a site for political activism in the context of global social and economic crises. As a practitioner, teacher and theorist in dance and performance, working in a UK university, I am interested in exploring the potential of somatics to resist a seemingly utilitarian incorporation of somatic principles into the agenda of neo-liberalism under post-Fordist conditions. In this article, I refer to somatics as an umbrella term to discuss practices related to the dance field including protests, walks, flashmobs and choreographic explorations of performative participation. While these practices might not be widely recognized as somatic practices, I argue that all operate at a somatic level and point to an ever-shifting relationship between the individual, the collective and the social environment. I reflect on a number of theoretical ideas pertaining to the relations between the development of somatics and the intensification of cultural capitalism in contemporary western society. In doing so, I aim to theorize somatics as critical and political practices of collective forms of being and working together. Drawing on instances of collective embodiment, I argue for the politicization of somatic practices as it relates to ideas of affect, ethics and time. I suggest that embodied expressions of collectivity as politicized somatics can develop valid tactics to counter what I observe to be a mimetic phenomenon between dance practices and capitalism. I propose the concept of somatic collectivity as a way to describe the critical potential of collective embodiment found in dance and its expanded field of practices.
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Keywords: affect; collectivity; ethics; post-Fordism; somatics; togetherness

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Winchester

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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