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The Body as Archive: Will to Re-Enact and the Afterlives of Dances

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 April 2012

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Laurence Louppe once advanced the intriguing notion that the dancer is “the veritable avatar of Orpheus: he has no right to turn back on his course, lest he be denied the object of his quest” (Louppe 1994, 32). However, looking across the contemporary dance scene in Europe and the United States, one cannot escape the fact that dancers—contrary to Orpheus, contrary to Louppe's assertion—are increasingly turning back on their and dance history's tracks in order to find the “object of their quest.” Indeed, contemporary dancers and choreographers in the United States and Europe have in recent years been actively engaged in creating re-enactments of sometimes well-known, sometimes obscure, dance works of the twentieth century. Examples abound: we can think of Fabian Barba's Schwingende Landschaft (2008), an evening-length piece where the Ecuadorian choreographer returns to Mary Wigman's seven solo pieces created in 1929 and performed during Wigman's first U.S. tour in 1930; of Elliot Mercer returning in 2009 and 2010 to several of Simone Forti's Construction Pieces (1961/62), performing them at Washington Square Park in New York City; or Anne Collod's 2008 return to Anna Halprin's Parades and Changes (1965), among many other examples.

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Copyright © Congress on Research in Dance 2010

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