An Unfair Exchange

“I would suggest that this generates an unfair exchange in that scholars seem to think they can dip into the arts, but are very nervous when artists move into scholarship.”

– Shannon Rose Riley, page 121 in Practice as Research in the Arts by Nelson


The Practice of Discipline

“This new provision meant a lot to endangered arts departments, departing from the usually held opinion that they did not belong in the academy because they were applied disciplines…” Nelson, p. 119


Could the argument be made that the hard sciences are applied disciplines? And if so, why are they in the academy?


Dance is Research

We can define science as the systematic study of the natural world through observation and experiment, yielding an organized body of knowledge on a particular subject. The human [body] is undeniably a suitable subject for scientific study, and one purpose of [dance] is careful observation of one’s own [body]. This observation reveals consistent patterns that [dancers] share with one another and with teachers who direct their practice. Master [dancers] weigh these observations against their own experience and knowledge passed down from previous generations of [dance] masters, thereby generating models of the [body]. Over thousands of years, [dancers] have tested, refined, and reworked their models of the [body] based on new insights as later generations developed new [dance] techniques. Thus, over time, an organized body of knowledge has accumulated describing the nature and behavior of the [body] at a very fine level of resolution. This is one sense in which certain forms of [dance] qualify as science.

excerpted and altered from


“Yes, And” to cross the divide

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser, poet and activist (15 Dec 1913-1980)

A nice sentiment, but a rather negative anti-science tone, which merely continues the unnecessary and unproductive divide between the “hard” and “soft” sciences. Muriel could have written: The universe is made of stories AND of atoms.

The existence of stories does not exclude the existence of atoms. And vice-versa.

It is kind of a nice story, how the idea came about. As Kelly said, we have stories because we have atoms.


Aristotle and Improvisation

It is absurd to suppose that purpose is not present because we do not observe the agent deliberating. Art does not deliberate.

– Aristotle, Physics II.8, The Complete Works of Aristotle Vol. I. The Revised Oxford Translation, ed. Jonathan Barnes).

If Art does not deliberate and choreography can be seen as a form of deliberation, is, then, choreographed dance not art?

Is the art that choreography generates, then, the un-deliberated performance of its execution?

Does this mean, then, that the purest artistic form of dance is the least deliberated, i.e., absolute improvisation, when the phases of exploration, experimentation, and execution collapse into a singular event?