Rechoreographing Homonymous Partners: Rancière's Dance Education from Loïe Fuller

Journal of Aesthetic Education 56 (3):44-62 (2022)
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Contemporary philosopher Jacques Rancière has been criticized for a conception of “politics” that is insensitive to the diminished agency of the corporeally oppressed. In a recent article, Dana Mills locates a solution to this alleged problem in Rancière most recent book translated into English, Aisthesis, in its chapter on Mallarmé’s writings on modern dancer Loïe Fuller. My first section argues that Mills’ reading exacerbates an “homonymy” (Rancière’s term) in Rancière’s use of the word “inscription,” which means for him either a vicious literal carving on living bodies, or else a virtuous figurative carving on nonliving bodies. The former, I call “bodily carving,” while the latter is the “corporeal writing” that I take Mallarmé to affirm in Fuller. My second section observes that Rancière himself misses a homonymy in Mallarmé on Fuller, namely “dance,” meaning either “ballet” or dance in general (including Fuller’s). My third section concludes that Rancière’s chapter on Fuller includes another “dance” homonymy, meaning either “concert dance” or what I term a new “art of meta-movement” in Fuller. The latter art, I conclude, is equivalent to Mallarmé’s “corporeal writing,” and can be understood as a new form of dance education, in pursuit of a new utopia of worker-dancers.

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Joshua M. Hall
University of Alabama, Birmingham


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