The Mobile Body Examining Perception through Choreography, Dance, and Performance

Alaina Wilson, Sarah Lawrence College

Abstract

This study investigates the phenomenon of perception in choreography, dance, and performance focusing on the ambiguous position held by the performing body as both an aesthetic object and perceiving subject. Using the Phenomenology of Perception by Maurice Merleau-Ponty as a theoretical framework, critical choreographic analyses of Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet, Lucinda Childs’ Museum Piece, and William Forsythe’s choreographic installation Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time demonstrate the body’s dual existence as both physical object and container of subjective self, while revealing the body’s role in shaping conscious experience. Practice-as-research in the form of choreography and performance, conducted by the author to contextualize the lived experience of understanding oneself as both an object within the world and a subjective internal self, has led to more specific explorations into perception, especially regarding the dynamics of the dancer-audience relationship during performance. The notion of mobile spectatorship is examined as a possible alternative to traditional proscenium seating models.