social choreography

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Social Choreography thinks about a social order that derives its ideals from the aesthetic world and seeks to inject this directly at the level of the body. In its most explicit form, this tradition observes the dynamic choreographic configurations produced in dance, and it intends for these forms to be applied in wider social and political spheres. This tradition can be traced back to Friedrich Schiller who showed an interest in dance being a social phenomenon. 
Dance of the old days wasn’t only a ‘privileged figure’ for social order, but also the execution of a social order that is both recognized and arranged by its aesthetic means. Even now, a spectator of an English waltz sees innumerous movements that, without thinking, in many ways dissect each other, or change directions, but never collide (Hewitt 2). Everything and everyone is ordered in such a manner that one already has a position before the other one arrives. Everything is integrated in a pattern, to which everyone can follow on his own inclinations without interfering with anyone. It is for Schiller ‘the most perfectly appropriate symbol of one’s own freedom and regard for the freedom of others’ (Hewit 2). The English waltz is therefore not an example of merely recognizing a social order, but a model for this order in society. Social choreography is thus an attempt of thinking about everyone’s individual freedom within the optimum stability of a collective. According to Michael Klien, a healthy society finds its balance by means of self-correction, and not via laws enforced by the social order. This happens via grace and gravity, and the elegance of good morality that is depicted by a person standing metaphorically with both feet on the ground. Actions are ideological, not just representations. The aim of these actions is to set up bodily relations, or create a space of possibility for this to happen. Michael Klien and Steve Valk call this an aesthetics of change.            


Hewitt, Andrew. Social Choreography: Ideology as Performance in Dance and

Everyday Movement. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.
Klien, Michael; Steve Valk, Jeffrey Gormly. Book of Recommendations:

Choreography as an Aesthetics of Change. Ireland: Daghdha Dance Company

Ltd, 2008.

Author and translator: Jaimy Stregels