group meeting 10

Date: Wed 29 May 2012
Time:  11pm -1pm
Place: usual

Frances Hubbard //
Research student in Film Studies, University of Sussex //

Associate Tutor, Media & Film, University of Sussex //

Screen Dance: Corporeal Ties Between Dance, Film, and Audience

Dancing with Difference

My thesis aims to explore the nature and value of the meanings that are generated during an emotionally and physically immersed experience of dance film, and how the physicality of this genre can have a visceral affect that induces a visceral response to film. I am equally interested in dance and the process of identification, and how dancing bodies/screens (and the ways in which we respond to them) can function politically, to both express and disrupt norms and ideologies.


My presentation for our critical and creative practice group has focussed on screendance and disability, and how it can act as a conduit for changing existing Western societal perceptions of physical disability. Dancers with physical disabilities are rarely seen in professional dance film performances, yet as DV8’s The Cost of Living (2004) shows, dance film can be used to deconstruct deeply ingrained misconceptions and prejudices surrounding disability. This is because the combination of body, cinematic angle, choreography, and emphasis on the gaze can all work to articulate the dichotomy of the disabled performer, who is at once both marginalised, invisible, and excluded from culture and our critical discourses, as well as being hypervisible due to their difference and in some cases, perceived enfreakment.


Through a movement between optical and haptic compositions and the film’s ability to create an embodied space, the viewer’s body may connect with the dance/film as the filmic image “touches” them, encouraging a feeling of connectivity rather than difference. When a disabled body is so close it is no longer objectifiable, separate, and complete, but almost becomes a part of the viewer through the strongly kinaesthetic camerawork. Therefore, through screendance, we may edge closer to an understanding of disability as an experience, as a lived thing and not a clinical diagnosis. This is exactly how haptic visuality can compliment the more obvious ideological work and intellectual pleasures going on in a text, since it can potentially encourage a sensual respect of difference by dissolving fixed categories through a felt sense of equality, collaboration, and connection.

+ attendees: AW, CG, AD, FH, CC
+ apologies: PMC, TA, JG, KW


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