A choregraphy is a complex dynamic assemblage that relates to the audience in a highly specific way. This way fashions a participatory relational compound which makes the choreography a singular one. In this sense, performances are singular offers for participation; and their respective aesthetic regimes create different modes of participation. Following Rancière's Partage du Sensible and Deleuze's transcendental empiricism, one can say that they share (partage) the distribution of the sensible of choreography. This argument implies a radical reconfiguration of the concept of participation, which counteracts the all too narrow version of political philosophy and representational politics, according to which participation is first and foremost based on an active commitment and a voluntary decision by already constituted subjects. One has to go further, stretch the notion of participation and unfold its issue as a matter of partage. Beneath the wide-meshed macrophysics of politics one can then discover a multiplicity of participatory relations that swarm within every body and its performances, that partition and re-distribute these bodies and generate new thresholds of perception: there are for example intercellular osmotic relations, relations of movement and rest, relations between a body and its exteriority, kinaesthetic relations between bodies, semiotic relations, etc. ... Considering these relations and the modes in which one partakes in them on a molecular, affective, or sensible level means exploring the potential of relational assemblages, that is, their changeability.
The following article is based on the transcript and notes for my lecture in the Gießen conference “Dance, Politics and Co-Immunity”. Whereas the first and third part of the lecture were written as a kind of frame, a passe-partout, the second and main part was articulated instantaneously on the basis of notes. In an attempt to account for the problem of participation and sharing within the field of choreography, dance studies, and philosophy through an adequate method of presentation, my contribution to the present anthology of the conference alters this form of presentation: The argumentative lines of a prepared yet improvised speech have been written out, and the scripted frame becomes the citation of a lecture choreographed in situ.
Choreography & Participation: What Do We Share Within A Performance?
In the representative democracy in which I am living, my participation in politics consists basically in one gesture (I lift my arm as in a vote) or (I check mark a box), in Germany (I check mark a box twice). Once, every four years, five, depending on the country in which I am living. A noble and utterly important gesture, without a doubt – even if I don’t feel I really have a choice. But I subscribe to this, somehow.1
In between these years, I just do something else. I choose, as far as I can. I work in choreography and in philosophy. Now, from a choreographic point of view, it is not only that I can imagine some more gestures, but that I also realize that I have a totally different understanding of participation, of participating in a society, and this understanding seems in a certain sense far more political to me. There is something about this participation that matters to me and that I will try to speak about today. It is an issue that I became aware of while I was writing my thesis Choreographing Relations: Practical Philosophy and Contemporary Choreography.2 It is something which lay beneath thinking, maybe because it was too obvious. I would like to reformulate this issue within the domain I’m concerned with: What do we actually share within a choreography, a performance? What do we share in performing thinking, lecturing? What can sharing mean today?
This question steered my research, and it is now that my script stops.
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This volume is dedicated to the question of how dance, both in its historical and in its contemporary manifestations, is intricately linked to conceptualisations of the political. Whereas in this context the term "policy" means the reproduction of hegemonic power relations within already existing institutional structures, politics refers to those practices which question the space of policy as such by inscribing that into its surface which has had no place before. The art of choreography consists in distributing bodies and their relations in space. It is a distribution of parts that within the field of the visible and the sayable allocates positions to specific bodies. Yet in the confrontation between bodies and their relations, a deframing and dislocating of positions may take place. The essays included in this book are aimed at the multiple connections between politics, community, dance, and globalisation from the perspective of e.g. Dance and Theatre Studies, History, Philosophy, and Sociology.