Choreopolitics – On dance and the Political

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– by André Lepecky


Police choreography, police dynamics, police kinetics. We can say, expanding Rancière’s thought, that choreopolicing imposes a forced ontological fitting between pregiven movements, bodies in conformity, and pre-assigned places for circulation. In contradiction, we can say that choreopolitics requires a redistribution and reinvention of bodies, affects, and senses through which one may learn how to move politically, how to invent, activate, seek, or experiment with a movement whose only sense (meaning and direction) is the experimental exercise of freedom. As Rancière clarifies: “Politics, by contrast to the police, consists in transforming this space of moving along, of circulation, into the space for the appearance of a subject”.

I would like to qualify this subject, appearing away from preassigned modes and spaces of circulation, as the political subject. Its appearance results from its excessiveness and unforeseen mode of reclaiming spaces for mobility. I venture that the particular political subject that transforms spaces of circulation into spaces of freedom has a specific name: the dancer.

It is the dancer who, in the most policed, controlled spaces (say even in the tightest of choreographic scores), has the potential to activate the appearing not necessarily of a subject, but of the highly mobile political thing. The choreopolitical task of the dancer simultaneously answers Hannah Arendt’s call for claiming kinetic knowledge on how to move towards freedom, but also demonstrates, perhaps against Arendt, that somehow, somewhere, someone always finds a way to move politically.

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