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Sensing Oneself Balanced: Training, Improvisation, Politics

Sat, September 2, 2:00 to 3:30pm, Sheraton Boston, 3, Fairfax A


Inside of the norming power of "balance" as a concept, lies the layering of balance as a moving-idea of ideal-movement. How "we" learn/incorporate the concept-practice of balancing gives shape to our lifeworld in political, historical, gymnastic and practical ways. Even the figuring of our "sense" of balance within and without "the five senses" is consequential for the shaping of ability and disability. Geurts' classic study of something like balance as a sixth sense among the Anlo-Ewe, suggests that immediate bodily experience is not outside of the foundational categories of culture. This complicates the world -- defined by Stengers with Whitehead as that which our senses testify to. At a more practical level among those who start thinking conceptually with training, the effect of ideas about body and movement on the practice of moving has been critically examined as "ideokinesis" by Mabel Todd in her 1930s Posture Lab -- in which students became taller in a semester of imaginative exercises, since taken up into the training of dancers. Bourdieu describes this loop of habitus as: history turned into nature. Csordas describes perception itself "in the midst of arbitrariness and indeterminacy". Through long-term participant observation with self-described professional movement trainers -- contact improvisation teachers, tightwire walkers, and gravity bodyworkers, this paper will explore balancing from the inside out and upside down.


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