Chapter One introduced the Manipulations by providing a short outline of the emergence of the practice in the context of Body Weather’s formation in Japan, and by presenting some of the main ideas underlying the training. It also traced my own engagement with Body Weather Amsterdam in the wider context of research-oriented dance in the Netherlands, and my motivation to enter the field of artistic research. Chapter Two looked at the process of transmitting the Manipulations, and outlined in more detail the techniques that inform and activate the practice. This chapter takes the discussion further onto a conceptual plane. In the first part, I consider the Manipulations as a knowledge-practice from various perspectives.1 The second part presents different views about the relationship between movement/experience, language, and embodiment in order to offer a basis for understanding the significance of the research score and how it responds to a number of both theoretical and practical challenges.


The Manipulations as a Practice of Articulating Bodies

Following Spinoza, Bruno Latour (2004) proposes conceiving of the action of knowledge in terms of knowing how to articulate bodies in order to enhance their capacity to affect and be affected. Latour develops his notion of ‘articulation’ through an example from the perfume industry, where the students’ sense of smell is trained with the help of an odour kit (malette à odeurs), a collection of distinct fragrances used to enhance their capacity to differentiate various scents. As an effect of training the sense of smell with the odour kit, Latour explains, the students become more and more articulate by being able to differentiate smells in ever more detail.2 To be articulate, according to Latour, has nothing to do with claiming authority, but rather indicates a capacity to be affected by differences. Eventually, the goal of learning to be affected is to be able to produce differences, because the more differences there are, the more articulations of these differences can possibly exist.3


Whereas in Latour’s model it is the odour kit that serves as a toolbox to learn how to be affected by the sense of smell, I propose considering the Manipulations to be a toolkit that is made up of a series of specific tactile-kinaesthetic hands-on operations that articulate a body through the sense of touch, and as a practice to articulate bodies in order to enhance their capacity to affect and be affected. By training to articulate bodies with the Manipulations, practitioners increasingly learn to produce and register differences created by touch.


Latour conceives of an articulation as the making of a ‘proposition’, which is very different from making a ‘statement’. Whereas propositions are more or less articulate, statements are true or false,4 and the facts they represent are non-negotiable.5 “With statements”, he writes, “one can never compose a world at once solid, interpreted, controversial and meaningful. With articulated propositions, this progressive composition of a common world […] becomes at least thinkable”.6


What is it, then, that makes a proposition more or less articulated? The benchmark for Latour is difference: propositions are more articulate when they produce and proliferate differences, whereas less-articulate propositions minimize them.7 On this account, the touch-manipulations that are given during the practice of the Manipulations can be understood as a series of propositions. The criterion for assessing the proposed touch-articulations is not whether they are true or false, but whether they are more or less articulate, i.e. whether they produce and proliferate differences, instead of minimizing them. Following this, I want to suggest that the Manipulations’ performativity consists in the capacity of this practice to multiply difference, and in their potential to enable différance, i.e. repetition with difference.8


To sum up, following Latour, I propose considering the Manipulations to be a practice for learning how to articulate bodies in order to enhance their affectability, and to produce difference. To this effect, learning to be affected by differences is a relational and generative process: a body does not precede its capacity to be affected, but it comes into being, in the first place, by articulating relations to itself and to other (non-)human bodies, and by multiplying its differences. Thus, becoming a body9 is a matter of learning how to articulate, and to be affected by, differences. Following this, I suggest conceiving of the Manipulations as a relational practice of articulating the body’s becoming.


Technique as Knowledge

In my account of the Manipulations, so far I have repeatedly referred to them as a practice structured by techniques. With this, I follow, to a certain extent, Ben Spatz (2016), who argues that we should draw a distinction between ‘practice’ and ‘technique’. According to him, technique “is not merely a repeated pattern or set of rules but an area of practical and technical knowledge”.10 By making a distinction between ‘practice’ and ‘knowledge’, Spatz argues, we are able to see the epistemic relationship between the two, and to conceive of ‘practice’ as a site of knowing: “Technique is knowledge that structures practice”.11


According to Spatz, technique structures practice


through an epistemic engagement with the relative reliability of material reality. Technique consists of discoveries about specific material possibilities that can be repeated with some degree of reliability, so that what works in one context may also work in another.12


Whereas every moment of practice is unique and not repeatable, “technique as knowledge is precisely repeatable, and, moreover, it is not bound to a particular moment, place, or person”.13 Technique enables us to come to know the world: “We do not first ‘know’ the world and then develop technique. Rather we come to know the world through different kinds of techniques […]”.14


Spatz uses the metaphor of branching pathways to enable a visualization of the relations between practice and technique. Specific areas of technique are sedimented in the body as “repeatable pathways of action within the practitioner”,15 though later on they branch out into different lineages “of related practices undertaken by different groups or individuals”.16 Following this, I have come to consider the Manipulations to be a practice that is structured by a number of specific techniques that eventually become embodied as relatively stable and repeatable pathways: the technique of knowing how to give touch-manipulations to another body; the technique of minimizing muscle tension; the technique of negotiating limits; the technique of knowing how to bracket language, emotions, and knowledge; the technique of knowing how to activate an omni-central reflective mode of attention; the techniques of reflecting in and on practice; etc.


Combining Spatz’s account of ‘technique as knowledge that structures practice’ with Latour’s notion of ‘articulation’ as a relational technique for learning how to affect and be affected, I propose considering the Manipulations as a practice—structured by techniques—to articulate bodies in order to enhance their affectability and their capacity to produce difference. The series of touch-articulations in the Manipulations brings forth relatively stable and repeatable pathways of action, which offer practitioners the material possibilities to study a body’s changing relations to itself and to other (human and non-human) bodies. As a technique of articulating bodies, the Manipulations hold the potential for practitioners to come to know the world by learning to affect and be affected by the world – i.e. by Weather. Bodies that are capable of affecting and being affected by Weather not only come to know the world differently, but they know how to co-create a different world.



With the Manipulations, while it is indispensable to know how to do things, it is no less crucial to know how not to do them. Jaana Parviainen and Marja Eriksson (2006) refer to these two different ways of knowing as ‘positive knowledge’ and ‘negative knowledge’. Positive knowledge takes place in “a constructive, linear and accumulative process”, whereas negative knowledge is characterized by “‘giving up’ or ‘bracketing’ knowledge in certain situations”.17 Negative knowledge includes “unlearning, bracketing knowledge, having failures, and ignorance”.18 While both modes of knowledge exist independently of each other, they emphasize the possibility of overlap between the two, which manifests itself in the form of ‘knowing what one does not know’ and ‘knowing what not to do’.19


The notion of negative knowledge and its possible overlap with positive knowledge depicts the situation in the Manipulations very aptly. Learning how to give the series of touch-articulations, for example, is not merely a matter of accumulating knowledge in a constructive and linear process. Of course, the question is about knowing what and how to give; but it is not only that. It is also about knowing how not to give – for example, to not give with force, to not impose yourself onto the other body, to not give automatically and without listening, to not project your idea of what you think the other body needs, etc.


Likewise, in the act of receiving, positive knowledge overlaps with negative knowledge; for example, knowing how to minimize muscle tension, how to make yourself available to be moved, how to bracket language and emotion, how to distribute your attention, and how to reflect in the action are intimately interwoven with knowing how not to build tension, how to receive without resisting, how not to fix your attention, how not to use speech, how not to let the emotions take over, and how not to drift away.


There is an important dimension in suspending positive knowledge and in not-knowing how to do things, which has to do with a body’s capacity to change and to differ. One can never be entirely sure of knowing exactly how a touch-manipulation should be given or will be received. All acquired knowledge about one’s own body and about other bodies is only ever provisional, and nothing, no thing, should be approached as already known, or be taken for certain or for granted. Bodies are changing day by day. What seems to work well for this body may not work in a similar way, or even at all, for another body. The limits of a muscle stretched today are likely to be different from yesterday or tomorrow. What is too much weight given to this body may be too little weight for another. What feels ‘good’ and ‘right’ today may feel ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’ tomorrow.


Understanding the Manipulations as a series of propositions implies that a given touch-manipulation is neither right nor wrong, but that it is articulated with more or less differentiation. What is ‘more’ or ‘less’ in a given situation needs to constantly be re-examined and critically questioned in the training. You may think you know a certain physical limit, until you realize that your body can actually go further when being touched by someone else in an articulate way. In this way, it is possible for you to experience your body in unprecedented ways.


The idea behind the foregrounding of negative knowledge, and its overlap with positive knowledge, is not to entirely discard the possibility of positive knowledge or to diminish its value, but to maintain openness to the dynamic relations between knowing and not-knowing in order to prevent a situation in which positive knowledge becomes fixed and automatized. The overlap between negative and positive knowledge keeps alive the spirit of curiosity, of research, and of experimentation; not knowing drives the proliferation of difference, and thus enables performativity and différance.


In Spatz’s epistemology of practice, on the other hand, ‘technique’ appears to be reduced to the acquisition of positive knowledge. It is constructed and accumulated along linear pathways, and it becomes extended through research into the creation of new technique, i.e. by adding on to its heritage. In my conception of knowing with the Manipulations, however, the creation of positive knowledge is intimately connected to the activation of negative knowledge as a force that animates the process of knowledge-making. Not knowing and failing are the necessary conditions for keeping the event of knowing in flux, and for preventing knowledge from becoming fixed and automatized.


Reflection vs. Automatization

For Spatz, the goal of any advanced training is to increase the capacities of practitioners to the extent that their actions become unconscious and automatized. This kind of automatization, he writes, is “a form of deeply sedimented agency that is the hallmark of advanced training in any field”.20 The idea of automatized technique as deeply sedimented agency does not match with how I conceptualize embodied knowing in and through the Manipulations. As pointed out above, reflection in and on action is key to preventing practitioners from falling into automatized repetitive behaviour – both in giving and receiving the Manipulations.


If the ‘automatization of technique’ is understood in terms of minimizing the share of reflectivity in the execution of a task or movement, then nothing could be further from an advanced form of practicing the Manipulations than this. Exactly the opposite is the case: making tacit knowledge reflectively explicit, becoming aware of the impact of touch, repeating with difference, constantly negotiating multiple tasks and techniques running at the same time, not fixing the organization of attention, and constantly reflecting on the process – and all of this, once again, is done not by distancing or separating oneself from the action, but by reflecting from within the action.


The potential of repetition in the Manipulations is to reflectively (re-)articulate bodies, again and again, as a way of becoming aware of deeply sedimented patterns of tactile-kinaesthetic and proprioceptive perception, and not of internalizing automatized movement as evidence of its successful execution. A hallmark of advanced training with the Manipulations is the reflective production of difference through repetition. The performativity of the Manipulations consists in the capacity of this practice to engender new perceptions and experiences out of repetition, and not to automatize a body’s actions as a means of controlling or mastering it.


In the Manipulations, technique as knowledge consists in consciously negotiating and deciding, from moment to moment, again and again, how to articulate this body, how to touch and move this part of it, how to attend to this sensation, etc. The process of embodying technique in this practice is not a matter of minimising reflectivity, but of its cultivation and proliferation as a means of articulating difference. If anything, the research value and knowledge potential of the technical knowledge created with the Manipulations is bound to reflectivity and difference, and not to automatization.21


What is striking about Spatz’s notion of technique, and his epistemology of practice in general, is the complete omission of any consideration concerning the role of reflection in the process of embodying technique as knowledge. While he does explicitly mention, though only in passing, the division between theory and practice as a separation between scholarly research and embodied research,22 he does not give any attention to the question of how reflection actually participates in the action of research and knowledge-making, and what the implications are of this division for his epistemology of practice or for his model of embodied research at the university.


Reflecting on the Manipulations

While language is bracketed during the practice of the Manipulations, it is greatly valued as a medium of reflection after and about the practice. Once the whole series from Number One to Number Seven is completed, the two partners are given some time to exchange on their experiences and to give feedback to each other. This is a moment to sit up and reflect, face-to-face and together, on the experiences and observations made in relation to the concrete issues and specific questions raised during the practice.


Different from other situations during the weekly Body Weather Amsterdam trainings, the feedback between the two partners following the Manipulations was usually not shared with the whole group, but rather stayed between the two. In the training session the following week, however, the insights gleaned from reflecting about the practice would become part of the embodied knowledge that tacitly found its way into the body of the group. For example, the feedback might have raised a technical question concerning the direction of a particular touch-manipulation, or it might have made someone more aware of the importance of listening to their partner’s breathing as an indication of having reached a limit. No matter whether the content of the feedback was perceived as profound or banal, when tacitly re-infused into the practice, it would become part of the embodied knowledge that circulated in and through the Manipulations, and thus it would have a certain influence on its further development within the body of the group.


Reflecting in/on action

Donald Schön (1987) draws a distinction between two kinds of reflection: reflecting on action and reflecting in action. Reflecting on action is either a kind of thinking back on past action, or it is an interruption of the action in order step back and think about it. In both these cases, Schön points out, reflection is no longer directly connected to the action.23 Reflection and action are separated, and each of the two belongs to a different action complex. He further implies that reflecting-on-action happens in the medium of words.


Reflecting in action, on the other hand, takes place in the midst of action and is a non-verbal mode of thinking in the doing that is integrated into the performance of a task, without interrupting it.24 Reflection in action does not happen in the medium of language,25 but is “a process we can deliver without being able to say what we are doing”.26 It is a way of making “new sense of uncertain, unique or conflicted situations”,27 where practitioners are “holding a conversation with the materials of their situations”, through which “they remake a part of their practice world and reveal the usually tacit processes of worldmaking that underlie all of their practice”.28


With regard to the practice of the Manipulations, it is evident that both modes of reflection are employed. There is reflection on action in the medium of words after the practice, when the two partners verbally share their observations; and there is non-verbal reflection in action during the practice, for example when the practitioners tacitly negotiate the limits of giving and receiving the touch-manipulations, when they work on minimizing muscular tension, or when they reflect on (re-)directing and distributing their attention.29



Robin Nelson (2013) considers critical reflection on (artistic) practice to be one of the key methods in practice-as-research. Following Michael Polanyi (1966), he argues that practitioners’ know-how is a form of tacit knowledge that is unconsciously embodied. The task of practice-as-research, according to Nelson, is to critically reflect on tacit knowledge and to make it explicit, thereby transforming know-how into what he calls know-what. He further explains his notion of know-what:


Know-what, unlike know-how and know-that, is not an established mode but, as I construct it in the model, it covers what can be gleaned through an informed reflexivity about the processes of making and its modes of knowing. The key method used to develop know-what from know-how is that of reflection – pausing, standing back and thinking about what you are doing. Put thus, it sounds straightforward, but in the actuality of PaR [practice-as-research] it demands a rigorous and iterative process. […] The know-what of PaR resides in knowing what ‘works’, in teasing out the methods by which ‘what works’ is achieved and the compositional principles involved.30


In Nelson’s model, critical reflection on know-how in and through the medium of language thus operates in similar ways to Schön’s reflection on action: by separating (“pausing, standing back and thinking about what you are doing”) non-linguistic practice and linguistic reflection into different complexes of action.


Bodily Knowledge

Dance researcher and philosopher Jaana Parviainen (2002) has a different understanding of the way in which tacit knowledge is transformed. According to her, knowing how “is characteristic of an expert who acts, makes judgements, and so forth without explicitly reflecting on the principles or rules involved”.31 It is a skill to solve problems, “but not an ability to reflect on the rules”.32 As the tacit knowledge of bodily skills is focalized and physically reflected upon by the dancer, it transforms into bodily knowledge. Bodily knowledge is more than technical ability or muscular skill: through becoming kinaesthetically aware of movement, the body reflectively develops the capacity to make choices about how to move.33


Parviainen’s ideas about bodily reflexivity as a way of creating bodily knowledge are very close to Schön’s notion of reflecting in action. Bodily knowledge is created in the midst of the action by reflectively negotiating the possibilities of the concrete material situation of bodily movement. It is a kinaesthetically intelligent form of reflection in action, and a non-linguistic mode of knowing “in and through the body”.34 It is an ability to think in, through, and with movement.


The Role of Language in the Formation of Bodily Knowledge

For both Parviainen and Nelson, reflection thus plays a key role in the transformation of ‘knowing how’ into what Nelson calls ‘know-what’, and into what Parviainen calls ‘bodily knowledge’. While these forms of knowing are quite similar to each other, the starting points for their creation are different modes of reflection. For Nelson, the transformation of know-how is accomplished by critically reflecting on tacit knowledge in the medium of verbal language; knowledge is created through an “informed reflexivity”35 about the doings of practice.


Parviainen, on the other hand, has a different notion of ‘reflection’, which has to do with her understanding of the role of language in the process of creating bodily knowledge. Following her, “knowing in dancing always has something to do with verbal language; nevertheless it essentially concerns the body’s awareness and motility”.36 Dancers, she writes, know “in and through the body”,37 and this knowledge is “for the most part [...] nonverbal”.38 Accordingly, for Parviainen, it is not verbal reflection on the action of movement that transforms physical skills into bodily knowledge, but it is a non-verbal mode of kinaesthetic reflection in the action, which operates for the most part beyond language.


In a more recent and co-authored contribution,39 Parviainen reiterates the view that bodily knowledge cannot be verbally articulated, and that there is a clear distinction between linguistically articulated knowledge and bodily knowledge.40 However, she also remarks that “bodily knowledge is usually developed in dialogue with co-movers, teachers and coaches”41 who “have a crucial role”42 through their feedback and encouragement. The paradox, she writes, is that bodily knowledge cannot be translated into language, but that its existence can only be indicated through language:


The paradox in discussing bodily knowledge is that I am trying to articulate a phenomenon that happens only in bodily awareness. This articulation cannot translate bodily knowledge to a literal form; it can only indicate the existence of bodily knowledge. […] In a sense it is living knowledge, transmitted from a body to a body very often through learning-by-doing.43


Parviainen’s ambiguity concerning the relationship between language and bodily knowledge continues through her notion of ‘reflection’. While she argues that bodily­—kinaesthetic—reflection plays a decisive role in the transformation of tacit knowledge into bodily knowledge, she likewise acknowledges the important role of linguistic modes of reflection such as dialogue, feedback, and discussion for its formation – yet without elaborating any further on how both modes of reflection might be interrelated.44


Language and the Epistemology of Dance

One reason for Parviainen’s ambiguity towards language could be related to the philosophical foundations on which her epistemology of dance rests. Phillipa Rothfield (2005) has criticized Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, one of Parviainen’s main references, for creating a disjunction between lived experience and conceptual reflection:


According to Sheets-Johnstone, the lived experience is immediate. It precludes reflection, criticism and evaluation. […] The disjunction between immediate, lived experience and the reflective realm is sustained throughout Sheets-Johnstone’s analysis. Put simply, the action of reflection nullifies lived experience. This is because reflection transforms the experiential event into an object of thought.45


Rothfield suggests that the disjunction between experience and reflection in Sheets-Johnstone’s phenomenology of dance serves as a means for “protecting the immediate experience of dance from the polluting action of reflection, criticism and so forth”.46 Leena Rouhiainen offers a similar explanation for Parviainen’s ambivalence towards language:


Parviainen’s aim is to reinstate cultivation of an understanding of the body’s felt sense, the lived body, in the context of understanding dance. She does this in a manner that initially is rather hostile to the objective and theoretical conceptions of the body in addition to a linguistic articulation of the dance event. There is, consequently, an undercurrent in her thinking that prioritizes the lived body and even explicitly holds on to the dichotomy between it and the objective body.47


Rothfield's critique of the separation of experience and reflection in Sheets-Johnstone's phenomenology of dance connects with Rouhiainen's observation that Parviainen's understanding of dance is based on the primacy of the lived body, and that it precludes a linguistic articulation of the experience of dance. The impression of a separation between the experience of dance and its linguistic articulation is reinforced by Parviainen’s assertion that bodily knowledge cannot be literally translated into verbal language, because it is a living knowledge that is typically transmitted through learning-by-doing, which is a non-verbal mode of experiential learning.48


In my interpretation of Parviainen, her notion of bodily knowledge rests on the assumption that there is a clear-cut separation between the ability to think, or reflect, in and through movement, on the one hand, and the possibility to think through, and to articulate, the experience of dance in the medium of words, on the other. At any rate, in theorizing the encounter between dance and language, her emphasis is far more on the limitations of language than on its potential to take a share in the articulation of a body and of bodily knowledge.


In Rouhiainen’s phenomenological approach, which mainly draws on the work of Merleau-Ponty, the relationship between dance and language is understood differently. According to her, “both bodily and linguistic practices direct the meaning of dance art”,49 and “the heritage of dance necessarily flows through both ‘non-verbal’ and ‘verbal’, or bodily and conceptual practices”.50 With Merleau-Ponty, she suggests that dance and language exist at the intersection of each other:


Inferring from Merleau-Ponty’s suggestion that the body exists in the exchange or crossover of sensing and being sensed, of oneself and the other, of nature and culture, one could view it to likewise exist in the exchange of physical and conceptual or linguistic expressions […] Dance as a corporeal endeavour could then be understood to exist in the last crossover as well.51


Rouhiainen agrees with Parviainen to a certain extent when she notes that “dance practices and perhaps the elementary meaning of dance are probably best passed on by being directly in contact with dancing and learning to dance oneself”,52 and that the capacity of language to articulate the lived experience is limited: “[…] The meaning of the bodily heritage of dance is obviously never totally furnished by speech and writing”.53 However, she also suggests that the transmission of dance should not be limited to physical practice, but that it “should also include all embodied ways of expression that are relevant to the formation of meanings related to dance”.54


Accordingly, Rouhiainen emphasizes the significant role of language and the discourse around dance, both in the process of transmitting and of creating dance, when she writes:


[…] It is common for teachers and choreographers to work with verbal instructions alongside of physical demonstration in teaching dance material. Added to this, my experiences of being a dancer have confirmed my belief that discourse affects how dancers understand dance as well as how they in fact dance […].55


Rouhiainen's remarks clearly demonstrate that in the learning of dance, verbal instructions typically go hand-in-hand with physical demonstration, and that the creative process cannot be understood outside of the linguistic discourse in which it takes place. Most important to my mind, however, is her observation that the discourse around dance does not only affect how dancers think about dance, but that it clearly affects how they dance; that is, their way of thinking in and through dance. What this suggests is that movement and language, dance and discourse, cannot be understood as entities that are separate from each other, but only through their interconnectedness. Put differently: while non-linguistic modes of thinking in movement and conceptual modes of thinking about movement are practices that exist in their own right,56 they need to be seen as interrelated with, and not separate from, each other.


Corporeal Writing and Translation

Rouhiainen’s understanding of the relationship between dance and language builds not only on Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology, but also on the work developed by Susan L. Foster (1995) in her seminal book Choreographing History. Foster calls for a re-conceptualization of the body that


can expose and contest such dichotomies as theory vs. practice or thought vs. action, distinctions that form part of the canonical scholarship. […] Are not reading, speaking, and writing varieties of bodily action? Can theory attain definition apart from the medium in which it finds articulation?57


Foster argues that the body’s movements are a kind of corporeal writing in its own right. Despite the fact that corporeal writing is a kind of “writing that has no facile verbal equivalence”,58 she considers the possibility of its translation in terms of collaboration—a form of ‘partnering’—between movement and linguistic articulation.59 Concerning the politics and the ethics of translation, Foster pleads for an equality of the relationship between verbal discourse and corporeal writing, and for acknowledging the particularities of the latter:


Where bodily endeavors assume the status of forms of articulation and representation, their movements acquire a status of function equal to the words that describe them. The act of writing about bodies thereby originates in the assumption that verbal discourse cannot speak for bodily discourse, but must enter in ‘dialogue’ with that bodily discourse. The written discourse must acknowledge the grammatical, syntactical, and rhetorical capacities of the moved discourse. Writing the historical text, rather than an act of verbal explanation, must become a process of interpretation, translation, and rewriting of bodily texts.60


In contrast to Parviainen, Foster thus assumes that the translation from movement to writing is indeed possible. Nevertheless, she also makes clear that translation is not something that can easily be accomplished. Discursive writing requires a heightened state of sensitivity to the particular properties of bodily discourse. Translation is not a unilateral operation that moves in one direction only, but one that takes place in a reciprocal partnership and as a dialogue between body and discourse.


Next to this, it is important to reiterate Rouhiainen’s observation that the moment of translating corporeal writing into discursive writing is not the first time that dance and language encounter each other. They have met before: in the dance studio, in the lecture hall, in the dance class, in the rehearsal space, in the memory of a body, in its imagination. Each moment that language is virtually present and actually expressed in the teaching and directing of dance, it is embodied in and through movement. In hindsight, we may be tempted to believe that tacit bodily knowledge is a non-linguistic mode of knowing. Nevertheless, in its inception, tacit knowledge has been co-constituted with language. The fact that the words that were used in the course of teaching movement, and in the discursive negotiation of movement, have become tacit in the process of embodiment, should not seduce us into thinking that language is not involved in the learning of movement. It is obvious for practitioners that language is involved in the transmission of practice, even in approaches that privilege learning-by-doing.


From Foster’s idea that corporeal writing and linguistic articulation are intertwined, we can infer that we do not actually need to create relations between the two. We can assume that relations to some extent are always already existent. However, her point is that the translation of corporeal writing is likely to fail if these relations are not activated with the necessary tact and sensibility.61 It is, moreover, equally important to acknowledge that there is always an excess of corporeal writing, of thinking in movement, and of tacit knowledge that resists translation. Regardless of their being interrelated, corporeal writing and verbal discourse cannot be reduced to each other, and they both exist in their own right.


Finally, a critical approach to translation must acknowledge the traditional hegemony of language, and the fact that verbal discourse about dance has historically played a dominant role in dance studies. One way to temper the hegemony of language, Foster suggests, is to establish an interdisciplinary space where the dialogue between bodily discourse and verbal discourse can take place on an equal footing.62


The Primacy of Movement

Apart from Parviainen’s ambiguous articulation of the relationship between dance and language, there is yet another problem in her conception of bodily knowledge, and that is the tendency to confine a dancer’s knowledge to the realm of movement.63 This tendency to foreground movement as the primary mode of a dancer’s knowledge is problematic in at least two ways. First, it rests on the ontological assumption that dance is essentially bound to movement. This assumption has been criticized by the dance scholar André Lepecki (2006), and debunked as a “notion that ontologically associates dance with ‘flow and a continuum of movement’ and with ‘people jumping up and down’”.64 According to Lepecki, such an ontology of dance is predicated on an attachment “to the ideals of dancing as constant agitation and continuous mobility”.65 The ontological bind of dance to movement, he criticizes, is directly related to a political ontology that subjects “bodies to a constant display of motion”,66 and that aims to incorporate these bodies into a “general economy of mobility that informs, supports, and reproduces the ideological formations of late capitalist modernity”.67


Reflexive Dance

The second way in which an epistemology of dance—that is predicated on the notion of dance as being grounded in movement—is problematic, and which is related to Lepecki’s critique, is that it ignores the profound changes in (Western European) contemporary dance and choreography that have occurred in the past few decades. Already since the 1990s, conceptual approaches to dance began to expand upon the notions of dance and choreography.68 The sociologist and dramaturge Rudi Laermans (2015) proposes the term ‘reflexive dance’ to refer to a new generation of dance-makers such as Jérôme Bel, Boris Charmatz, Anne Teresa De Keersmaker, Xavier LeRoy, Vera Mantero, Mårten Spångberg, and Meg Stuart, amongst others. According to Laermans, despite the marked differences in their aesthetics, these artists “share an attitude of reflexivity and research: they do not take the traditional parameters of dance or choreography for granted but performatively question, displace and re-define these ingredients”.69


“Reflexive dance”, he further explains, “radically de-essentializes dance by deliberately subtracting elements that are usually regarded as being constitutive for dance”.70 One of the traditional parameters of dance that has regularly been displaced and subtracted by reflexive dance is the element of movement. In this regard, Laermans notes a connection to the work of John Cage, who pointed out that the necessary condition for the possibility of sound is silence. Similarly, by subtracting movement from dance, the proponents of reflexive dance would make us realize that “non-movement is the ultimate condition of movement: the absence of dance makes dance possible”.71


An epistemology of dance that is grounded in an ontology of dance as being bound to (human) movement, and that locates (bodily) knowledge primarily in the dancer’s ability to negotiate and reflectively choose the proper movements, does not take into account the significant changes in contemporary dance that have been brought about by the proponents of reflexive dance. They propose a radically different approach to the creative process and to the production of knowledge. In this approach, movement is no longer the primary or main medium of making dance; rather, it is precisely the absence of movement that is generative, in that it gives space for other modes of knowing to take place in the studio as factors in the creative process. Laermans outlines this approach as follows:


Whatever the peculiarities and the specific context, working in a reflexive mode always comes down to a particular kind of knowledge production about dance and choreography. The information is generated in mostly collaborative research processes whose variegated nature exceeds the essentialist premises of earlier forms of movement research. Each activity that may lead to the delineation of a framing problematic and the formation of fitting ideas or concepts is equally valued. Studio-based research is therefore alternated with the reading of texts, dialogues with theorists and discussion with peers, or quasi-ethnographic fieldwork in a setting deemed relevant for one’s project. In short, reflexive dance is a way of doing dance studies in other modes than the academic […].72


Knowledge production through collaborative research into ideas and concepts, through texts, dialogues, discussion, and fieldwork – in the medium of dance. This is what the radically altered situation for many artists working in the field of contemporary dance has looked like since the first decade of the new millennium. It is a way of working that breaks with traditional company structures and with the traditional division of labour, where the choreographer used to author the work while the dancers mainly functioned as the executors of the choreography without having a significant voice in the process of creation.73


To be sure, the terms and conditions of reflexive dance cannot be generalized for all dance artists working in the field of contemporary dance. Not everyone active in the field has been able or willing to adopt the working modes heralded by the proponents of the conceptualist movement. Their deconstructive works have often triggered fierce reactions and have been rejected as a betrayal of dance,74 as anti-dance, or even as killing dance. Nevertheless, one can easily recognize the lasting impact that reflexive dance has had on the development of the field, particularly in terms of developing new formats of collaboration and exchange. For many artists, working on theoretical questions and with concepts has become a self-evident and integral part of their work. To them, dance has become a medium of research at the conjunction of movement and discourse. In this respect, one might even say that reflexive dance has helped to pave the way for the emergence of artistic research, and that conceptual approaches to dance have significantly contributed to the development of the field.


Dancing as Theorizing

The signs of change were already discernible at the beginning of the new millennium. Rouhiainen, for example, observed in her interviews with Finnish freelance dancers around that time that they considered reflection upon their dance practice to be an integral part of their work, and that the relationship between doing, moving, and thinking was a major topic of interest for them.75 Nowadays, it has become acceptable to consider contemporary dance as a tool for thinking and discussing,76 and to view dance-making as a form of theorizing that is embedded in bodily practice, rather than a result of distanced critical reflection.77 Dancers are keen to engage in the theoretical discourse and the larger aesthetic discourse, without neglecting movement as a tool of their work.78


At a certain moment in the debate about the epistemology of dance, it was important to establish a tacit mode of knowing in and through movement as a distinct form of knowledge in its own right,79 and to foreground non-linguistic modes of knowing against the dominance of propositional knowledge and the hegemony of language. However, given the recent fundamental changes in the landscape of contemporary dance, it now seems equally important and timely to develop an epistemology that takes into account the fact that the notion of dance and choreography has become expanded, and that considers bodily knowledge to be co-constituted by language and discourse.


Writing About Body Weather

Peter Snow’s PhD thesis (2002) was the first comprehensive scholarly account of Body Weather as a training and performance practice. Building on his own practical experience of working mainly in the Australian context, he combines an in-depth analysis and description of Body Weather’s training program with what he calls an ‘empirical phenomenology’ based on the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Alfred North Whitehead. Snow’s thesis about Body Weather is an extremely rich and highly insightful piece of scholarly writing from the perspective of a theatre practitioner and theorist – a situation that he considers to be at the in-between of both disciplines: “Performance research”, he writes, is “a kind of embodying this in-betweenness”.80


In reflecting further on the situation of an artist-theorist writing about a performance practice, Snow highlights two aspects. First, he asserts that it is absolutely vital for the researcher to engage with the corporeality of the practice in order to be familiar with it in all its subtleties and nuances. According to him, writing about a performance practice without practical knowledge of the corporeal details of this practice is senseless.81 Second, he argues that the task of the researcher is “to translate bodily experiences [and] to articulate in words the experiences of living bodies”.82 The task of translation, he writes, is “to do justice to the methodological problem of transposition from one mode of researching to another”.83


Two things stand out here. In relation to Snow’s first point, I am reminded of an ongoing sense of doubt and anxiety, during the first years of my doctorate, about whether I was indeed well-enough equipped with knowledge and experience of Body Weather practice to have the legitimacy to write about it. After joining Body Weather Amsterdam in 2002, my engagement gradually increased from participating as an independent dancer in the weekly training, while simultaneously working on other projects, to becoming a committed performer in, and co-founder of, the performance project Something Here That Is Not There (established 2005). After entering the Artistic Research MA program at the University of Amsterdam in 2007, my engagement with Body Weather began to shift, and further expanded in the direction of (artistic) research.


Entering the emergent field of artistic research fulfilled a long-held dream of mine to bring together my artistic and academic backgrounds. However, the prospect of writing about Body Weather caused me some headaches. How do you determine and define the moment when you have engaged long enough with the corporeality of a practice so that the writing can start to make sense? When are you actually entitled and authorized to write about (a) practice? During this period of transition, despite all those many years of intense training and performing with Body Weather Amsterdam, I was held back by my fear of not being able to do justice to Body Weather, and not being able to deliver writing that was good enough to satisfy the practice. After starting my doctoral research in 2011, it took me several years until I felt ‘ready’ to write about Body Weather, and to have this writing published in an academic context. I will return to this issue later.


Method and the Problem of ‘Application’

The other point made by Snow highlights the methodological problem of transposing one mode of research into another ­– the task of translation. Traditionally, in the context of academic research in the arts, the problem of transposition is related to the question of how to translate artistic practice into academic language. A conventional way of approaching the problem of translation is to draw on existing concepts and to create a theoretical framework that is then applied to the practice as a method of articulating the experience that is embedded in an artistic work or process. In practice-as-research in an academic context, the creation of a conceptual framework and its application as a method for critically reflecting on and about (artistic) practice has been understood as an essential supplement that justifies speaking of practice as research.84


However, the problem of ‘applying’ a conceptual framework to a given practice, as Laura Cull has criticized, is that “a fixed idea is superimposed upon a pliant example, a predetermined theory over a passive practice”, and that “application implies the subordination of the powers of one practice or process to the needs of another”.85 Brian Massumi makes a similar point about the ‘application’ of concepts to ‘material’. He writes:


If you apply a concept or system of concepts, it is the material you apply it to that undergoes change, much more markedly than do the concepts. The change is imposed upon the material by the concepts’ systematicity and constitutes a becoming homologous of the material to the system. This is all very grim. It has less to do with ‘more to the world’ than ‘more of the same’. It has less to do with invention than with mastery and control.86


Cull and Massumi thus reject the application of a pre-fabricated conceptual framework as a form of domination that subjects (artistic) practice to the needs of theory.87 Inhibiting the potential of invention rather than stimulating it, the mode of ‘application’ subordinates artistic practice to academic discourse, and it reinforces the hegemony of language as the privileged tool for knowledge-making.88 For many artists conducting doctoral research within an institution of higher education, the requirement of applying a conceptual framework as a method of translating, articulating, and reflecting on their practice poses a serious problem, because of what they perceive to be the incommensurability of the (non-propositional) language of artistic practice with the (propositional) language of academic discourse.89


Typically, critically reflecting about practice in and through the medium of verbal language is understood as the act of pausing, standing back, and thinking about practice from a certain distance.90 This mode of reflection requires the practitioner-researcher to step outside of the practice and to take the perspective of the spectator. This shift of perspective, chosen or forced, is reminiscent of the ideal of the distanced and objective observer as the privileged subject of knowing; an ideal that is still upheld in many quarters of academic research. The action of linguistic reflection thus tends to create a separation between an actively knowing/reflecting subject and a passively known/reflected object.91 It instantiates a separation between two different action complexes: the action complex of being in the experience and the action complex of linguistically reflecting about experience.92


The problem of critical reflection on and about practice in the context of artistic research is that it not only tends to create a gap between practice and language—a gap that practitioner-researchers often find difficult to bridge—but that when it becomes aligned to a disciplinary academic regime where language is the dominant signifier, critical reflection about practice in the medium of words becomes the privileged method of knowledge production. The dominance of linguistic modes of knowledge-making typically goes along with a failure to grant equivalent value to more-than linguistic forms of knowing that are activated and embodied in and through (artistic) practice.93 What it all comes down to, finally, is that the dichotomy between theory and practice that so many protagonists in the field of artistic research want to leave behind is reinforced instead of weakened.


Performer Training and the Duality between Practice and Reflection

Jonathan Pitches points out that one of the main challenges for practitioner-researchers investigating performer training is the duality between being immersed in the act of training on the one hand, and adopting a reflective separation that takes distance from experience on the other.94 For him, the question is how to “balance an engagement in ‘hands on’ practices with a state of separation from those very same practices, the second being more appropriate for reflective thinking and expression?”95 Pitches quotes Paul Allain with the following statement about the duality of immersion and reflection:


We need to be able to train with conviction and practice without inhibiting analysis, so that when we emerge [on] the other side, when we stand back and judge we can speak with embodied insights. Reflection can rarely be done within the flow of the work, because it is always enough just to do. We need to allow ourselves to be immersed, and yet also to know when and how to reflect. This duality is still the central challenge for those documenting performance processes.96


While I do agree, in principle, with Allain that we need to know when and how to reflect, I do wonder about the opposition he makes between an ‘inhibiting analysis’ and ‘embodied insights’, as well as about his claim that in training for performance, ‘it is always enough just to do’. Is it not precisely this duality between practice and reflection that artistic research has vowed to deconstruct? Could it be that a conception of training that postulates an ontological duality between experience and reflection, and thus implicitly also between practice and research, is possibly itself at the root of the problem that practitioner-researchers are continuously struggling to overcome? Can we envision a kind of reflection—as well as its documentation—that does not follow the logics of separation?


Pitches suggests tackling the problem of the duality of reflective and experiential modes of thinking through a nuanced research design. His proposition is to “decide how (and if) to punctuate practical work with periods of writing”, and to “distinguish between formative writing (to help understand the work), documentary writing (to record the work), reflective writing (to allow space for personal evaluation) and critical writing (to draw on ideas from a wider context)”.97


While I think that it is a good idea to distinguish different ways of writing about practice, I am not convinced that the kinds of writing suggested by Pitches really go to the heart of the problem, which has to do with the way in which the relationship between writing and practice is conceived under the conditions of academic research. It seems to me that by proposing distinctive modes of writing about practice, the main problems of the language-practice gap and the hegemony of language are bypassed rather than effectively challenged.


The Rhetoric of Practice

Let me return to Snow. While reminding us that the corporeality of performance and writing about performance are phenomenologically distinct processes, Snow likewise emphasizes their commonalities. Not only do performance and writing share the goal of “bringing something to life”,98 but they are both “material processes” and “embodied activities that are carried out by people”.99 He further points out yet another important link between language and practice, namely practitioners’ ways of using language in their ‘rhetoric’:


The rhetoric […] acts to initiate newcomers, as well as to re-invigorate the work of existing disciples. But it also acts upon the talkers and writers; i.e. on the artists themselves. It helps them to clarify their thinking and their practising, and pushes them to go further in both these intertwined activities. […] The point is that rhetoric is employed to have effects; effects on practice, effects on thinking about practice, and effects on the relations between the two. It makes things happen.100


What Snow highlights here is that the words used in the rhetoric of practitioners are never merely descriptive of their practice. Invoking Austin’s notion of ‘performativity’, he highlights the performative power of the words that are carried towards the practice, and that are “endowed with the rhetorical force of getting the participants to go where they have not ventured before, into new and emerging territory”.101 Words are productive: they have the capacity to make things happen,102 and to create new relations between practice and thinking. Words are generative: they are able to stir our imagination, and to give us an idea of worlds that are beyond the present, that are still to come.103


Snow further mentions that practitioners are often wary of the words that are applied by themselves, or by others, to their practice. Many of them are afraid that words could impose stasis, that they could frame or fix (the perception of) experience.104 Rather than emphasising the risk involved in the verbal translation of practice, however, Snow points to the key role that words—literally—can play in the articulation—and unlocking—of the deep corporeal insights that can typically only be gleaned through years of arduous practice. The verbal articulation of profound corporeal insights brings them closer to those who are not as thoroughly initiated as the select few expert practitioners. Language can thus work towards the demystification of artistic practice and can help to create, for good or for bad, a pathway, possibly even a shortcut, to profound bodily knowledge that is otherwise exclusive and inaccessible.


Snow’s point about the performativity of the words being used as part of transmitting, training, and directing practice, about their capacity to create worlds and to make these worlds accessible to us, if only in our imagination, seems utterly important. Practices never arise from, or exist in, a linguistic vacuum. Even though Body Weather is a training practice that highly values learning-by-doing as a form of transmission, and even though the bracketing of words and speech is employed as a tool to articulate bodies beyond language and with ever more sensitivity, we cannot ignore the fact that language participates in constituting these very same processes, and that it contributes to the formation of embodied experience.105



[1] See Gehm et al. 2007.

[2] “Through the training session, [the student] learned to have a nose that allowed her to inhabit a (richly differentiated odoriferous) world. Thus body parts are progressively acquired at the same time as ‘world counter-parts’ are being registered in a new way. Acquiring a body is thus a progressive enterprise that produces at once a sensory medium and a sensitive world. […] Through his kit and his ability as a teacher, he has been able to render his indifferent pupils attentive to ever more subtle differences in the inner structure of the pure chemicals he has managed to assemble. He has not simply moved the trainees from inattention to attention, from semi-conscious to conscious appraisal, he has taught them to be affected […].” (Latour 2004, 207)

[3] Latour repeatedly points out that the point of learning to be affected is the production of difference, which in turn enables more articulation: “Articulations […] may easily proliferate without ceasing to register differences. On the contrary, the more contrasts you add, the more differences and mediations you become sensible to.” (Latour 2004, 211; original emphasis) “The more mediations the better when acquiring a body, that is, when becoming sensitive to the effects of more different entities […] The more you articulate controversies, the wider the world becomes. […] I want to be alive and thus I want more words, more controversies, more artificial settings, more instruments, so as to become sensitive to even more differences. My kingdom for a more embodied body!” (Latour 2004, 211/212) “[…] The more artificiality, the more sensorium, the more bodies, the more affections, the more realities will be registered […] Reality and artificiality are synonyms, not antonyms. Learning to be affected means exactly that: the more you learn, the more differences exist.” (Latour 2004, 213; original emphasis)

[4] Latour 2004, 206.

[5] Latour 2004, 212.

[6] Latour 2004, 212.

[7] See Latour 2004, 220. Latour makes a link between more or less articulate propositions and good or bad generalizations: “The good ones are those that allow for the connection of widely different phenomena and thus generate even more recognition of unexpected differences by engaging a few entities in the life and fate of many others. The bad ones are those which, because they had had such a local success, try to produce generality, not through connection of new differences, but by the discounting of all remaining differences as irrelevant.” (Latour 2004, 220; original emphasis) “Generalization should be a vehicle for travelling through as many differences as possible – thus maximizing articulations – and not a way of decreasing the number of alternative versions of the same phenomena.” (Latour 2004, 221; original emphasis)

[8] See Bolt 2016, 132-135.

[9] In Latour’s formulation, it is to “to have a body” (2004, 205; my emphasis). Yet on a relational account, bodies are constantly becoming, and are not a separate entity or property that can be owned.

[10] Spatz 2015, 40; original emphasis.

[11] Spatz 2015, 1; original emphasis.

[12] Spatz 2015, 42.

[13] Spatz 2015, 41.

[14] Spatz 2015, 43.

[15] Spatz 2015, 44.

[16] Spatz 2015, 44.

[17] Parviainen & Eriksson 2006, 140.

[18] Parviainen & Eriksson 2006, 144.

[19] Parviainen & Eriksson 2006, 144.

[20]Spatz 2015, 52.

[21] This is not to say that training with the Manipulations could not promote the creation of new habits. All training eventually does. (I am grateful to my pre-examiner Peter Snow for pointing this out.) However, the point in the Manipulations is to constantly identify—and undo—habits as a means of proliferating difference instead of eliminating it. Therefore, the creation of new habits can be seen as a necessary pre-condition for the production of difference. Going even further, I want to suggest that training with the Manipulations is the practice of a paradox: it is a form of automatizing the techniques of undoing automatized behaviour.

[22] See Spatz 2015, 221.

[23] Schön 1987, 26.

[24] Schön 1987, 29.

[25] Schön 1987, 30.

[26] Schön 1987, 31.

[27] Schön 1987, 35.

[28] Schön 1987, 36.

[29] I will challenge such a patterning of reflection, as in Pitches (2011) and Allain (2006).

[30] Nelson 2013, 44; original emphasis.

[31] Parviainen 2002, 18.

[32] Parviainen 2002, 18.

[33] Parviainen 2002, 19. She further specifies: “[…][B]odily knowledge aims to describe the living body’s movement ability, which is not doing itself; however, this learning evolves on the basis of bodily awareness, kinaesthesis, and perception. As mentioned in the example of the pianist who practices a new musical piece, bodily knowledge is developed with the doubleness of tacit and focal aspects in practicing the piece, but it differs from actual doing, which is playing the piece skilfully. The pianist’s bodily knowledge is the realization of her or his living body’s movement ability to push and release fingers on key with a certain intensity and rhythm to produce the sound the piece demands. Bodily knowledge does not involve a mere technique or the production of skill; together with the body’s reflectivity it offers possibilities to choose ways to move.” (Parviainen 2002, 19) See also Leena Rouhiainen’s description of how body schema relates to bodily knowledge (2003, 105-112).

“[….][B]odily knowledge does not imply the exposition of bodily skills, though there is an intimate correlation of bodily knowledge and bodily skills. [. . .] The body chooses an appropriate movement in a situation not automatically, but ‘reflectively’ by negotiation with the environment the body if necessary modifies the movement.” (Parviainen 2002, 20)

[34] Parviainen 2002, 13.

[35] Nelson 2013, 44

[36] Parviainen 2002, 13; my emphasis.

[37] Parviainen 2002, 13.

[38] Parviainen 2002, 13.

[39] Parviainen & Aromaa 2015.

[40] “Our articulation of bodily knowledge cannot translate or transform bodily knowledge to a literal form; it can only indicate the existence and significance of bodily knowledge. […] We do not wish to reduce all kinds of knowing to ‘embodied knowledge’, but see a clear difference between conceptual/articulated knowledge and bodily knowledge. By articulated /conceptual knowledge, we simply mean a mode of knowledge, expressed in words, numbers, formulas and procedures, communicated in an exact manner, though never exclusively so.” (Parviainen & Aromaa 2015, 12)

[41] Parviainen & Aromaa 2015, 12.

[42] Parviainen & Aromaa 2015, 12.

[43] Parviainen 2002, 22.

[44] It appears to me that Parviainen considers the practice of dance and the practice of linguistic reflection as separate actions, with each taking place in their own distinct time and space. In her conceptualization of bodily knowledge, reflection in the medium of movement and reflection in the medium of words seem to be divided into two separate complexes of action.

[45] Rothfield 2005, 45/46. Note that Rothfield implies a conceptual mode of reflection here.

[46] Rothfield 2005, 46.

[47] Rouhiainen 2003, 152.

[48] Might it be so that the separation between bodily knowledge and articulated knowledge possibly functions as a strategic move to secure the place of bodily knowledge as an epistemologically distinct mode of knowing – against the dominant propositional mode of articulated knowledge? Is the assumed impossibility of translating bodily knowledge into language an effect of ‘protecting’ bodily knowledge from articulated knowledge in order to stabilize the epistemological distinctiveness and the identity of bodily knowledge against the hegemony of language and—critical—conceptual reflection?

[49] Rouhiainen 2003, 155.

[50] Rouhiainen 2003, 157.

[51] Rouhiainen 2003, 157.

[52] Rouhiainen 2003, 155.

[53] Rouhiainen 2003, 155.

[54] Rouhiainen 2003, 155/156.

[55] Rouhiainen 2003, 156.

[56] See Manning 2016, 3.

[57] Foster 1995, 12. She further elaborates: “A body, whether sitting writing or standing thinking or walking talking or running screaming, is a bodily writing. Its habits and stances, gestures and demonstrations, every action of its various regions, areas, and parts – all these emerge out of cultural practices, verbal or not, that construct corporeal meaning. Each of the body’s moves, as with all its writings, traces the physical fact of movement and also an array of references to conceptual entities and events. Constructed from endless and repeated encounters with other bodies, each body’s writing maintains a nonnatural relation between its physicality and its referentiality. Each body establishes this relation between physicality and meaning in concert with the physical actions and verbal descriptions of bodies that move alongside it. Not only is this relation between the physical and the conceptual nonnatural, it is also impermanent. It mutates, transforms, reinstantiates with each new encounter.” (Foster 1995, 3)

[58] See Foster 1995, 9.

[59] “As translations from moved to written text occur, the practices of moving and writing partner each other.” (Foster 1995, 10)

[60] Foster 1995, 9; original emphasis.

[61] Snow makes a similar point about translation in relation to performance research: “Whatever the reason, for a theorist to write about performance without dealing with the corporeal details of what it is to practise seems as nonsensical to me as writing about the practice of medicine without engaging with the experiences of feeling sick and being ill.” (Snow 2002, 13)

[62] “The act of translating such physical endeavors into verbal descriptions of them entails, first, a recognition of their distinctiveness, and then a series of tactical decisions that draw the moved and the written into an interdisciplinary parlance.” (Foster 1995, 15)

[63] Note that I speak of a tendency. There are many examples in Parviainen's key text from 2002 that argue for a strict alignment of 'bodily knowledge' to 'movement', compared to the very few that indicate a connection to verbal language and propositional knowledge: “Knowing in dancing always has something to do with verbal language; nevertheless, it essentially concerns the body’s awareness and motility” (13; my emphasis). “If we acknowledge that dancers know something and that for the most part their knowing is nonverbal, it leads us to ask, What do they know, and even more importantly, How do they know?” (13; original emphasis) “I consider a theory of knowledge that could explain a mode of knowing in terms of bodily movements.” (15) “[…] Bodily knowledge aims to describe the living body’s movement ability […].” (19) “Bodily knowledge does not involve a mere technique or production of a skill; together with the body’s reflectivity it offers possibilities to choose ways to move.” (19) “[…] Bodily knowledge is not about correctly performing a movement skill […] but the ability to find proper movements through bodily negotiation.” (20) “The body chooses an appropriate movement in a situation not automatically, but ‘reflectively,’ by negotiation with the environment the body if necessary modifies the movement.” (20) An example of a connection between bodily knowledge and articulated/propositional knowledge is Parviainen’s statement that “articulated and bodily knowledge […] are usually interwoven or complimentary modes of profound dance knowledge” (22). She also states that her aim is “not to define dance knowledge but to approach an epistemology that can recognize the element of knowledge in a dancer’s skill” (15).

[64] Lepecki 2006, 2.

[65] Lepecki 2006, 2.

[66] Lepecki 2006, 9.

[67] Lepecki 2006, 16.

[68] See Laermans 2015.

[69] Laermans 2015, 49/50.

[70] Laermans 2015, 50.

[71] Laermans 2015, 52. He further elaborates: “At least as far as human bodies are implied, this negation is a virtual one, a state that a skilled performing body may try to approach but never actually reaches. Since it is nevertheless a constitutive absence, non-movement must be included in the definition of movement. Emphasized stillness exposes the transcendental structure of dance, that which permits movement and its articulation to exist. It shows that an action can only surface in relation to the ever present eventuality of its cessation. The unity of the difference between movement and non-movement therefore defines the medium of dance” (52/53).

[72] Laermans 2015, 210.

[73] See Laermans 2015, 212.

[74] See Lepecki 2006, 1.

[75] See Rouhiainen 2003, 315-332.

[76] “Most work in contemporary dance is not intended to create anything new. The work is more about using dance to think and discuss.” (Rynnänen 2014, 107; original emphases)

[77] “Dancemaking […] becomes a form of theorizing, one that informs and is informed by instantiations of bodily significance—athletic, sexual, fashionable, mediatised—that endure alongside it. The theoretical, rather than a contemplative stance achieved afterwards and at a distance, becomes embedded (embodied) within the practical decisions that build up, through the active engagement of bodies, any specific endeavor.” (Foster 1995, 15/16)

[78] See Berg 2014, 37/38.

[79] See Manning 2016, 42.

[80] Snow 2002, 23.

[81] See Snow 2002, 13.

[82] Snow 2002, 13.

[83] Snow 2002, 13.

[84] Robin Nelson’s model can be considered an example of this approach to practice-as-research (see Nelson 2013). For a comprehensive critique of the application of ‘method’, see the chapter ‘Against Method’ in Manning 2016.

[85] Cull 2012, 21.

[86] Massumi 2002, 17.

[87] Both Cull’s and Massumi’s critiques of ‘application’ do not rest on the idea that there could be such a writing that is neutral and not informed by theory. They would certainly approve of the notion that all writing is historically and culturally situated, and that it is always imbued with theory. Their critique is directed against the ethics and politics of an approach to theorizing that operates entirely on its own terms, and that colonizes (artistic) practice in order to extract knowledge, without caring much about the particular needs and sensibilities of the ecology of practices from which this knowledge emerges.

[88] See Sollfrank 2016, 102.

[89] In my experience, based on the encounters and exchanges I have had throughout the entire time of my doctorate, this is a persistent problem for artist-researchers working in academic contexts. This impression was most recently confirmed at a meeting of doctoral students organized by the ADiE research project in Stockholm in 2018 (

[90] See Nelson 2013, 44.

[91] See Anttila 2007, 81.

[92] See Brown et al. 2011, 499 ff.

[93] See Manning 2016, 42.

[94] See Pitches 2011, 137 ff.

[95] Pitches 2011, 138; original emphasis.

[96] Allain (2006) in Pitches 2011, 141.

[97] Pitches 2011, 142; original emphases

[98] Snow 2002, 15.

[99] Snow 2002, 16.

[100] Snow 2002, 21.

[101] Snow 2002, 22.

[102] See Bolt 2016, 133.

[103] Snow 2002, 16.

[104] See Snow 2002, 22.

[105] I am reminded of my first experience of Body Weather when taking part in a workshop at the School for New Dance Development in 2001. The workshop was co-facilitated by Frank van de Ven and Peter Snow. Van de Ven directed the physical part of the workshop, while Snow observed the work from some distance, taking notes. Every now and then, after we had finished with an exploration, Snow would join the group discussion in order to share his observations. His reflections, based also on his own firsthand experience of the work as a practitioner, were highly inspiring and imaginative, and I remember being absolutely thrilled by the combination of physical practice and conceptual reflection, which made the workshop a highly successful learning experience for me.

Chapter Three

The Manipulations as a Knowledge Practice