The Arts, Literature and Dance: Multimodal and Embodied Approaches for a Resilient and Partnership World

In an ever-increasing divided reality, in which incomprehension and boundaries are putting at risk our innate human capacity for love, care and understanding, the Humanities are interested in investigating new transdisciplinary and intercultural dialogues for a more resilient and peaceful world (Riem & Hughes-d’Aeth, 2022). The encounter of scholarly-research with the praxis of media and the arts are in this respect fundamental for altering, revising and re-reading ‘canonical’ or Western-oriented epistemologies and thinking (Quijano, 2007; Mignolo & Walsh, 2018) in light of a more complex, fluid and respectful partnership existence (Eisler, 1987; Eisler & Fry, 2019).

In my scholarly-artistic research, as both academic and dancer, I engage in multimodal projects with the intent of mingling together the poetic wor(l)d of post-decolonial writers from the ‘edge’ with the gestural, iconic and embodied language of dance (Schechner, 2013). This mixing of intertextual references and corporeal allusions allows my productions to bring to the fore new and unfathomed perspectives for both practitioners and viewers with the aim to traverse disciplinary boundaries and embrace a new opaque (Glissant, 1997) and much needed exchange of possibilities, an unexpected intersectional remapping of critical inquiry that destabilises, interrogates, proposes…

In this presentation I will focus on my last ongoing production based on David Dabydeen’s Turner (1994), a long narrative poem in which the Guyanese author questions the representation of drowning black bodies in J.M.W. Turner’s notorious painting Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying, Typhoon Coming On (1840). My solo dance embodies Dabydeen’s complex depiction of Turner, who becomes simultaneously the painter, the slave, the stillborn, the human who constantly changes his skin in order to become oppressor and oppressed, persecutor and victim, black and white. Dabydeen’s poem highlights a tidalectic discourse (Brathwaite, 1992) on the role of Western-European imperialism, thus allowing us to revive our Atlantic archive in a more feminine and partnership-oriented dimension.

The presentation will follow an “undisciplined” (Benozzo, 2010) form of enquire, debating first on Dabydeen’s poem and writing, following the presentation of the ongoing process of the intermedial adaptation, to end with a live embodied extract of the dance performance.

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