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Yon Natalie Mik

Choreography of the Ghost: (Dis)Embodied Histories, Spirituality and Virtuality in Contemporary Dance

The research project explores how the politics of history and memory in the era of information technology converge in dance. It offers a close reading of choreography not exclusively as an aesthetic mechanism of dance making, but as a historiographical concept that draws its narratological material from diverse archives such as national and personal histories, myths and speculative fiction.

Through the analysis of selected choreographies, including works by Eun-mi Ahn, Prumsodun Ok and Choy Ka Fai, the project explores how transmigrant artists, whose own affiliations to nation states and socio-cultural norms are unstable, reinvent the past and build a more viable present for bodies that can create movements beyond the confining perimeters of existing canons, national archives or censorship.

The selected works offer a series of compelling research questions that directly connect to a discussion of normativity, critique and change. How do the artists’ handling of choreography critique our normative relationship with knowledge? How can the body – along with its orientation and movement – write discourse (versus the discourse writing the body)? How do choreographic strategies access archival material and how do they unlearn our habits of reading dominant narratives? 

A deeply embodied choreographic practice of visceral staging, on the one hand, and the employment of the ghost as a disembodied concept, on the other, perform a historiographical intervention that opens an interdisciplinary dialogue between religion, science, truth and fiction.

The exploration of the choreographic making of the ghost invites us to shift our normative relationship to time, people and places. It perpetually involves questions that challenge our reading of history and memory across different cultural, spiritual, technological and political contexts: What is the artist allowed to show? How does the ghost direct us to imagine certain bodies, and which norms are we ultimately following when we value or disvalue them? Is there a norm of justice to narrating history or events?

Freie Universität Berlin
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Universität der Künste Berlin
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