Corporeal and sonic diagrams for cinematic ethics in Rolf de Heer’s Dance Me to My Song

Hickey-Moody, Anna Catherine. 2010. Corporeal and sonic diagrams for cinematic ethics in Rolf de Heer’s Dance Me to My Song. Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 31(4), pp. 499-511. ISSN 0159-6306 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Rolf De Heer’s 1997 Australian feature film Dance Me to My Song was devised
with the late Heather Rose, a person with Cerebral Palsy. The film also features
a central performance by Heather (as the character of Julia) and is clearly about
‘her world’. The ethic of engagement exemplified by this film resonates with what
Gerard Goggin has termed an ‘ethics of listening’ that entails ‘listening-as-ifdisability-mattered’.
This article takes up Deleuze’s concepts of the diagram in
order to argue that Dance Me to My Song is a valuable, although at times
problematic, cinematic framing of disability. Deleuze’s two concepts of the
diagram offer a useful frame through which to consider the film, because
respectively they map the potentiality of social relations and act as a means of
erasing cliche´. The film is a raw, visceral text, rich in diegetic sound intended to
‘fold’ the experiences of the protagonist into the subjectivity of the spectator/
aurator. This folding blurs and re-aligns relationships between disabled and nondisabled
bodies and can be seen as a step towards erasing cliche´s attached to the
disabled body. The disabled/able boundary is further blurred through ambiguous
representation of Julia’s carer, Madeline, as potentially disabled. The characters in
the film perform a diagrammatic function of shaping possible relations between
bodies and erasing cliche´. Building on the platform provided by Dance Me to My
Song, I contend that when cinema engages with the disabled body and
soundscapes associated with the disabled body through an ‘ethics of listening’,
new sonic and filmic bodies can be ! and are ! created

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Disability, feminism, film, Deleuze

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies



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Date Deposited:

15 Jan 2015 08:32

Last Modified:

15 Jan 2015 08:32

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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