‘The Contemporary Dance Economy: Problems and Potentials in the Neoliberal Moment’

Katerina Paramana

Conduct is the activity of conducting (conduire), of conduction (la conduction) if you like, but it is equally the way in which one conducts oneself (se conduit), lets oneself be conducted (se laisse conduire), is conducted (est conduit), and finally, in which one behaves (se comporter) as an effect of a form of conduct (une conduite) as the action of conducting or of conduction (conduction) (Foucault 2007: 193).

I am currently finalising the writing of an article in which I address what I consider the problems and potentials of the dance economy in the contemporary neoliberal moment. Using Foucault’s thinking on the relationship between biopolitics, conduct and neoliberal governmentality, and Wendy Brown’s perspective on Foucault’s thinking, I examine how the conduct of the dance field is – in the different ways that Foucault is referring to it – affecting and affected by neoliberalism. To do so, I examine some of the problems of the dance economy in the contemporary moment as I, and other scholar-practitioners, have identified them, and address their relationship to neoliberalism – how they result from conducts suggested by neoliberalism or helping it do its work by becoming conducts of the field. I propose ways we might address them, suggesting that it is urgent that we do so. In many ways this article constitutes a critique of the contemporary dance economy; a critique that, by showing the relation of our conduct to conducts imposed by larger economies, aspires at articulating our role as central to both advancing the field and effecting social change.



Brown, Wendy. 2015. Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution. New York, NY: Zone Books.

Foucault, Michel. 2007. Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France 1977-1978. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


plans for a research environment

During the last fifteen years or so (I mark the start for myself with Software for Dancers 2000-03), Sarah and I have worked with many collaborators from different fields on projects seeking to document and share aspects of the creative work of dance artists, including Sue and Jonathan, Bebe Miller, Deborah Hay, Wayne McGregor, Bill Forsythe, Emio Greco | PC, etc. The results many of you will be familiar with include the RePlay project with Sue and the Motion Bank on-line scores (including Jonathan and Matteo). These projects focused on what digital tools and practices could bring to this work. Collaboration with cognitive psychologists, including Phil Barnard, has provided many insights into how to think about and open up making processes. In 2008-09, we shared a research platform called Choreographic Objects with a social scientist some of you know James Leach. One of the contributions of this platform was to draw attention to these projects as forming the basis for a new community of practice. Since 2000, software practice in the arts has evolved significantly, giving rise to a community of artist/ coders sometimes called ‘creative coders’. This has reshaped how we might approach computation less as a means of making tools or ‘interfaces’ for users and more as a form of creative writing and thinking (see the mission statement for the School of Poetic Computation). This opens up new possibilities for imagining connections between dance and data, elaborated on some by Florian Jenett and me in this conversation with Franz Anton Cramer. With these notions of community and new dance-data connections in mind, we are working to establish something called (for now) the Dance Documentation & Digitisation (D3) Research Environment. We hope to involve as many of you who are interested as possible. More information will be out soon.

– Scott deLahunta


Piecemaker2 (PM2) annotation software. On Video: Jeanine Durning performing her adaptation of ‘No Time to Fly’ by Deborah Hay. Based on Piecemaker originally developed by David Kern, The Forsythe Company. Reprogrammed by Motion Bank. Screenshot: Florian Jenett.


(intangible) cultural heritage and intellectual property law

My work at the intersection of (intangible) cultural heritage and IP law has become firmly established over recent years. Three projects have focused my attention: Invisible Difference: Dance, Disability and Law, RICHES and E-Space which have each, in different ways, highlighted for me the important research questions at play. This has led to a series of projects that I am currently working on: an edited collection – Intangible Cultural Heritage and contemporary practice: a law and heritage exploration – that will be published by Edward Elgar in 2018; an associated AHRC responsive mode funding application to work with a theatre practitioner and create a performance examining ICH (nearly ready…); on-going discussions with ICH policy specialists to host a round table symposium to map the intersections between ICH and IP; and intriguing discussions with an economist at Paris1 who has been working on data visualisations for the ICH sector in France – could we do the same for the UK? And this is only the tip of the iceberg!

– Charlotte Waelde

Images of (intangible) cultural heritage in Namibia and Bhutan, by Charlotte Waelde.

exploring soulful research methodologies through dance – eline kieft

For my contribution to Spiritual Herstories: Soulful research in dance studies, edited by Amanda Williamson and Barbara Sellers-Young, I am exploring methodologies that acknowledge and include the soul on various levels. During both my PhD and Movement Medicine training, I regularly encountered (healing) experiences that did not fit our regular explanatory models. Through grappling with the methodological challenges of capturing these academically, I started to look for soulful methodologies that are both fuelled by the soul as well as help understand more of its mysteries. In my personal practice, dance is the place where I ask questions, take stock, re-align various parts of myself, and reconnect with meaning. The mere act of moving opens me to the unseen, and renders me more whole, more empowered, more in tune. This practice influences my work, as I literally ‘dance’ with my research as a living entity in its own right, to make sense of data, and to embody my writing. I propose an ‘alchemy of the soul’ as circular and interdisciplinary approach for studying the intangible from a variety of perspectives, to create radically inclusive research methodologies.

– Eline Kieft

Images courtesy of Eline Kieft, Christoph Frei, Henk Kieft and Jose Kieft

home practice – emma meehan

As part of the Accumulations project, I’ve been invited by dance artist Amy Voris to contribute to a shrine to women’s work. She has asked: How does your familial and creative female lineage manifest in your own work / play? Hosting, sharing food, and creating social occasions for exchange have become interests in my work, and these were givens to my female predecessors. In my creative lineage, Irish choreographer Joan Davis and movement artist Sandra Reeve teach, perform and host creative events in their homesteads and gardens, where the sharing of food, conversation and creativity become central to the process. I am now calling this familial and creative lineage ‘home practice’. For the shrine to women’s work, I am assembling a picnic hamper of home-spun items including my great grandmother’s lace, a poem/letter from my mother, a home baked tea brack, and my ‘home practice’ movement/writing journal. I plan to host a gathering on 5th of August for colleagues, friends and family to visit the shrine and have tea with me, but it will also be open to the general public for the first two weeks of August: http://www.accumulationsproject.com

– Emma Meehan