Choreo-graphy: The Deinstitutionalisation of the Body and the Event of Writing

Moon, Je Yun. 2017. Choreo-graphy: The Deinstitutionalisation of the Body and the Event of Writing. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Choreography is commonly understood as a technical term that describes what the choreographer does in a literal sense: writing the dancing bodies according to a master’s set narrative. However, recent events in contemporary choreography suggest a different possibility of articulating choreography as a technique of offering rather than a technique of domination over other bodies. Through an analysis of some groundbreaking choreographic experiments by Xavier Le Roy, Jérôme Bel, Boris Charmatz, Eszter Salamon, Christine De Smedt, Jan Ritsema, and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, which have gained visibility since the late 1990s in the global art scene beyond the Western institution of dance, this thesis aims to theorise this shift in what choreography is and can be.

In an attempt to theorise choreography as a technique of offering, this thesis illuminates the relationship between some of the tactical operations in contemporary choreographic experiments and the post-structuralist rethinking of power, institution, the body, subjectivity and knowledge production. Turning to Michel Foucault’s rethinking of power and Jacques Rancière’s challenge of the position of mastery, it aims to articulate the tactical deconstructions of the choreographer-master in contemporary choreographic experiments. Borrowing Hannah Arendt’s notion of a ‘space of appearance’ and Jean-Luc Nancy’s rethinking of body, it attempts to articulate how choreography as a spatiotemporal technique offers spaces of appearances for other bodies.

This thesis also highlights a different possibility of articulating choreography by positioning it in the critical field called the ‘curatorial’. Reflecting the contemporary disciplinary crisis in art, where the given methodologies and tools no longer do the job that they used to do, there are increasing demands from cultural producers for different modes of operations in order to open up new critical possibilities of interdisciplinary research. In thinking through Le Roy and De Keersmaeker’s ‘choreographed’ exhibitions, this thesis aims to rethink choreography in terms of the curatorial. This also means to rethink the curatorial in terms of choreography, where both theatre-making and exhibition-making can be rearticulated as a matter of body in relation to other bodies.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Curatorial, Choreography, Body, Writing

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures


28 February 2017

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 Mar 2017 17:01

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:25


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