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The weathering body: composition and decomposition in environmental dance and site-specific live art

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter


Publication date2010
Host publicationThe dynamic body in space: developing Rudolf Laban's ideas for the 21st century
EditorsValerie Preston-Dunlop, Lesley-Anne Sayers
Place of publicationAlton
PublisherDance Books
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781852731380
Original languageEnglish


With particular reference to eco-phenomenology, this chapter explores the different ways in which Laban Movement Analysis (or LMA) can be integral to the creation, and not just the documentation, of environmental dance, and in doing so it considers the kind of ecological knowledge and values that can be generated by environmental dance in general. To do this, the chapter focuses on Still Life, a collaboration between Sap Dance and the Lou Wilson Company that was developed at Far Arnside, a stretch of coast between Lancashire and Cumbria overlooking Morecambe Bay, the largest intertidal area in the UK. Starting with a description of the work, the chapter looks at how LMA in particular, and indeed Still Life in general, fits what aesthetician Malcolm Budd terms the object model of environmental aesthetics in which we make the natural world comprehensible by cutting it up into knowable objects of description. The second half of the chapter, however, evolves a counter-argument by noting how in the show bodies "engage with and yield to the temporality of forces through which things arise and dissipate in an environment of which they are a part", and how, in particular, "the human body is pulled beyond itself by the gravitational force of an expansive, heterogeneous, unpredictable and ever-changing other-than-human world".