Dafne Muntanyola-Saura

Partnering in dance rehearsals. The place of listening and rhythm

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What happens when we move with others? Within a video-aided ethnography of dance, we observed and interviewed members of the Wayne McGregor-Random Dance Company in London from 2009 to 2014. The aim of this paper is to define the nature of artistic partnering, moving past the phenomenological subjectivity that dominates theoretical production in the dance field. Through the analysis of an episode of making, a type of instruction in rehearsal, partnering and, more specifically, the location of rhythm, are investigated. The point of departure is listening, a term that dancers use frequently to label their work in duets, trios and quartets. Inertia, body consciousness and flow are all dimensions of rhythm. However, we claim that partnering in dance is more accurately explained by moving beyond synchronization with a parametrical other. This change in the level of analysis has already been made by Schutz (1971) with his concept of togetherness in musical practice. The transcription of words, moves and gestures with ELAN software is part of the analysis of the filmed interviews and rehearsals. The findings include the definition of the rhythm of partnering as a socially-localized activity and not only a phenomenological experience of the body. Rhythm is an artful practice that is shaped by the company habitus as an element of focused interaction among dancers.


  • Dance
  • Rhythm
  • Partnering
  • Interaction
  • Company Habitus
  • Musicality


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