Relative Proximity: Reaching Towards an Ethics of Touch in Cross-Generational Dance Practice

Pethybridge, Ruth ORCID logoORCID: (2014) Relative Proximity: Reaching Towards an Ethics of Touch in Cross-Generational Dance Practice. Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices, 6 (2). pp. 175-187. ISSN 17571871

[thumbnail of RelativeProximityFINAL.pdf]
RelativeProximityFINAL.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (9MB) | Preview
Official URL:

Abstract / Summary

This paper addresses the potential for an embodied ethics of touch in the context of cross-generational dance work, in particular through the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas. Focusing on choreographic processes and performances involving parents and children I examine the relationships that are re-orientated through the shifting mode of being that is dancing together. This is in part an auto-ethnographic enquiry as I reflect on my own experiences as a new mother dancing with my daughter in Baby Jam and relating to her in life. Proximity is used as a way to frame the auto-ethnographic lens and to discuss ethics as a way of relating.

This paper suggests an ambiguous definition of ‘contact’; conceiving of it as a mode of communicating as well as a dance practice - what Erin Manning refers to as a ‘reaching towards’ (2009,14). The paper questions how contact might be defined without the use of touch through including the potential of touch as well as its actualisation. Using Manning’s notion of relational movement, this paper refers to the ‘about-to-be’ moment in contact – and the ethical relationships that this engenders.

Using three case studies as examples, this paper cross-references my own practice of a cross-generational duet project, my experiences as a new mother and the work of Giulio D’Anna and his recent piece choreographed with his father ‘Parkin’Son’. It discusses the ontological implications of contact across generations as a way of being-together, reaching towards an ethics of touch rather than fixing its meaning.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1386/jdsp.6.2.175_1
ISSN: 17571871
Subjects: Performance > Dance > Choreography
Performance > Dance
Philosophy & Psychology
Courses by Department: Academy of Music & Theatre Arts > Dance
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Ruth Pethybridge
Date Deposited: 22 Feb 2017 16:33
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 16:32


View Item View Item (login required)