This article reflects on the relation between dance and contemporary production, which is today very often described as postfordism. The discovery of the body and its autonomous movement is in the history of contemporary dance closely linked with the strong resistance to the disciplinary and repetitive modes of production. On one side, autonomous movement of the body is influenced by the kinaesthetic knowledge developed in the fordistic factory; on the other side it is transforming the same knowledge into the aesthetic and perceptive research of the liberated subjectivity and her singular movement. This article shows that political potentiality of dance has to be reflected again from the perspective of how we produce today, or to put it differently: How do labouring subjects exist in contemporary society? The autonomy of creativity and aesthetic experience, which was an important part of the resistance to the rationalisation of labour in the 20th century, nowadays presents an important source of productive value. Subjugation consists today of continuous movement, flexibility of relations, signs, gestures and bodies. Production encourages constant transformation and crisis of a singular subject, with the intention to capture the outbursts of creativity and bestow it with value. Production demands ceaseless collaboration, which has to be temporary but not too affective, otherwise it can become ill-timed and destructive. How then do we exactly work, when we work with dance? Political potentiality of dance is not related to the leisure space outside of work, but it has to be put into the conversation with flexible production modes and immateriality of the contemporary work. In the last decades we can follow these changes in recent dance performances, especially when we observe some interrelated phenomena: the visibility of working procedures, redistribution of collaborative bodies and production of (dancing) knowledge.
Two images of movement
I would like to start this essay with two personal images. At the moment I have two homes, one in Ljubljana and another in Hamburg. In Ljubljana, my window overlooks a small circular park beside an old people’s home, where its residents can take daily walks along the paths of a circular shape. Whenever I look at the park through my window, I feel that something has changed in my perception; in the loudness of the city, a movement is revealed that cannot be looked at without a kinaesthetic feeling being triggered in the body. These are not only walks where slowness appears, the slowness of a body no longer capable of the continuous and invisible transition of the city inhabitant, harmonised with the omnipresent rhythm. Instead of walking and moving forward, the old people are actually trying to avoid obstacles touching the street carefully with their steps. Their walk would not be possible if they did not while they are walking at the same time measure the relations in the space surrounding them making sure to not be knocked down by a cyclist, a recreational runner or a small child chasing after its dog. When I take a break in Hamburg, my kitchen window looks into another window, which is the window of a small dance school (with a funny name – dancealot) where people can learn how to dance East Coast Swing and West Coast Swing. Every evening, the lights are turned on in a small studio inside an old abandoned building where young and old dancers try to attain virtuosity in swing dancing, attempting to move smoothly and learning the steps, touching the floor with their steps carefully, as if there might be some obstacle on the floor, and measuring the space they can take, in order not to bump into each other.
These two images are the same and fundamentally different at the same time. Both images are disclosing how movement is not only getting from point A to point B. Movement is not a unity of quantitative differences that can be endlessly multiplied, as Deleuze warned.1 Movement is not only a transient movement in space, but it should also be understood as change, as quantitative differentiation. As an example Deleuze refers to the eminent philosophical parable of the fearless runner Achilles. Despite his youth and strength, his movements resemble those of the old...