Ethos Formula: Liturgy and Rhetorics in the Work of Ted Shawn

Alexander Schwan

Abstract


Beginning with Giorgio Agamben’s alignment of ethics and potentiality, this essay questions the ethical dimension of gesture in the field of dance as an eminently potentiality-bound art form. This draws on Daniel Sibony’s concept of law and dance, according to which the body simultaneously repels and longs for the law as a nexus of heteronomous structures. I frame this through a revision of Aby Warburg’s rhetorical concept, pathos formula, into the corollary term, ethos formula, as the encoded movement patterns of ethical attitudes or comportments which are motivated by decision-making rather than emotional content. Do gestures and their citation in dance bear an ethical dimension similar to the encoded transmission of emotions through movement?

This new concept of ethos formula finds an excellent example in the work of the American choreographer Ted Shawn (1891–1972). His strikingly hybrid use of ethos formula from the 19th century Catholic theorist François Delsarte and his parallel practice of quoting liturgical gestures from Protestant church services, pursues the ambiguity and uncanniness of modernity itself. For Shawn—like many other protagonists of modernist dance—argues on the one hand for freeing the body from the boundaries of classical ballet in the name of individual expression, and on the other hand for an instrumentalized body that still clings to principles of taxonomy and normativity.


Keywords


Agamben; ethics; potentiality; Ted Shawn; choreography; Daniel Sibony; law and dance; modernist dance

Full Text:

HTML PDF

 

Cited by:

1. J T Hughes. 1999. "WiLliam Petty: Oxford Anatomist and Physician." Journal of Medical Biography 7 (1). https://doi.org/10.1177/096777209900700103

References


Agamben, Giorgio. 1993. The Coming Community. Translated by Michael Hardt. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota University Press.

Agamben, Giorgio. 2016. The Use of Bodies: Homo Sacer IV, 2. Translated by Adam Kotsko. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Andresen, Carl. 1961. “Altchristliche Kritik am Tanz – ein Ausschnitt aus dem Kampf der Alten Kirche gegen heidnische Sitten.” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 72: 217–62.

Brandstetter, Gabriele. 2013. Tanz-Lektüren: Körperbilder und Raumfiguren der Avantgarde. 2nd enl. ed. Freiburg i.Br: Rombach.

Brandstetter, Gabriele. 2015. Poetics of Dance: Body, Image, and Space in the Historical Avant-gardes. Translated by Elena Polzer and Mark Franko, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Burt, Ramsay. 1995. The Male Dancer. Bodies, Spectacle, Sexualities. London: Routledge.

Cavenaugh, Greg. 2011. “Corresponding with Delsarte: Occult and Ontological Dimensions of Nineteenth-century Elocutionary Performance.” Text and Performance Quarterly 31 (2): 130–48.

https://doi.org/10.1080/10462937.2010.551137

Desmond, Jane. 2001. “Dancing Out the Difference: Cultural Imperialism and Ruth St. Denis Radha of 1906.” In Moving History/Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader, edited by Ann Dils and Ann Cooper Albright, 256–70. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Duncan, Isadora. 1903. Der Tanz der Zukunft/The Dance of the Future. Eine Vorlesung. Translated by Karl Federn. Leipzig: Diederichs.

Foster, Susan Leigh. 2001. “Closets Full of Dances: Masculinity and Sexuality in American Modern Dance.” In Dancing Desires: Choreographing Sexualities on and off the Stage, edited by Jane C. Desmond, 147–208. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Gil, José. 2006. “Paradoxical Body.” Translated by André Lepecki. TDR 50 (4): 21–35.

Graham, Martha. 1991. Blood Memory. New York: Doubleday.

Giraudet, Alfred. 1895. Mimique: physionomie et gestes. Méthode pratique d’après le système de F. del Sarte pour servir à l’expression des sentiments. Paris: Librairies-imprimeries réunies.

Humphrey, Doris. 1995. An Artist First. Edited and completed by Selma Jeanne Cohen. Pennington: Princeton Book Co.

Jeschke, Claudia, and Gabi Vetterman. 1992. “François Delsarte.” In Ausdruckstanz. Eine mitteleuropäische Bewegung der ersten Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts, edited by Gunhild Oberzaucher-Schüller, 15–24. Wilhelmshaven: Florian Noetzel.

Kabel, Thomas. 2002. Handbuch Liturgische Präsenz. Zur praktischen Inszenierung des Gottesdienstes. Vol. 1. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlagshaus.

Knape, Joachim. 2010. “Rhetorischer Pathosbegriff und literarische Pathosnarrative.” In Pathos. Zur Geschichte einer problematischen Kategorie, edited by Cornelia Zumbusch, 25–44. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.

LaMothe, Kimerer L. 1998. “Passionate Madonna: The Christian Turn of American Dancer Ruth St. Denis.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 66 (4): 747–69. https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/66.4.747

LaMothe, Kimerer L. 2006. Nietzsche’s Dancers. Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and the Revaluation of Christian Values. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Legendre, Pierre. 1978. La passion d’être un autre: Étude pour la danse. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Lepecki, André. 2004. “Inscribing Dance.” In Of the Presence of the Body. Essays on Dance and Performance Theory, edited by André Lepecki, 124–139. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press.

Liska, Vivian. 2008. Giorgio Agambens leerer Messianismus. Hannah Arendt. Walter Benjamin. Franz Kafka. Wien: Schlebrügge.

Manor, Giora, ed. 1986. Agadati: The Pioneer of Modern Dance in Israel. Tel Aviv: Sifriat Poalim/The Dance Library of Israel.

Manor, Giora, ed. 1988. Gertrud Kraus. Tel Aviv: Sifriat Poalim/The Dance Library of Israel.

Manning, Erin. 2009. Relationscapes: Movement, Art, Philosophy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Manning, Susan. 2014. Modern Dance, Negro Dance: Race in Motion. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Miller, James L. 1986. Measures of Wisdom. The Cosmic Dance in Classical and Christian Antiquity. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 2006. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A Book for All and None. Translated by Adrian Del Caro. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Preston, Carrie J. 2011. Modernism’s Mythic Pose: Gender, Genre, Solo Performance. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ruyter, Nancy Lee Chalfa. 1999. The Cultivation of Body and Mind in Nineteenth-Century American Delsartism. Westport: Greenwood Press.

Schwan, Alexander. 2009. “Expression, Ekstase, Spiritualität: Paul Tillichs Theologie der Kunst und Mary Wigmans Absoluter Tanz.” In Tanz, Bewegung & Spiritualität, edited by Dagmar Ellen Fischer and Thom Hecht. 214–26. Jahrbuch Tanzforschung 19. Leipzig: Henschel.

Schwan, Alexander. 2011. “Tanz, Wahnsinn und Gesetz. Eine kritische relecture von Pierre Legendre und Daniel Sibony.” In Tanz & WahnSinn/Dance & ChoreoMania, edited by Johannes Birringer and Josephine Fenger. Jahrbuch Tanzforschung 21: 111–19. Leipzig: Henschel.

Scolieri, Paul A. 2016. “‘An Interesting Experiment in Eugenics:’ Ted Shawn, American Dance, and the Discourse of Sex, Race, and Ethnicity.” In The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Ethnicity, edited by Anthony Shay and Barbara Sellers-Young, 187–209. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shawn, Ted. 1926. The American Ballet. New York: Henry Holt & Co.

Shawn, Ted. 1929. Gods Who Dance. New York: Dutton & Co.

Shawn, Ted. 1963. Every Little Movement: A Book About François Delsarte, The Man and His Philosophy, His Science of Applied Aesthetics, The Application of This Science to the Art of the Dance, The Influence of Delsarte on American Dance. Rev. ed. New York: Dance Horizons.

Shawn, Ted. 1974. Dance We Must. New York: Haskell.

Shawn, Ted. 1979. One Thousand and One Night Stands. New York: Da Capo Press.

Sibony, Daniel. 1995. Le corps et sa danse. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Siegmund, Gerald. 2012. “Negotiating Choreography, Letter, and Law in William Forsythe.” In New German Dance Studies, edited by Susan Manning and Lucia Ruprecht, 200–16. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Taubes, Jacob. 1993. Die Politische Theologie des Paulus. Vorträge gehalten an der Forschungsstätte der evangelischen Studiengemeinschaft in Heidelberg, 23.–27. Februar 1987. Nach Tonbandaufzeichnungen redigierte Fassung von Aleida Assmann. Edited by Aleida Assmann and Jan Assmann. Munich: Wilhelm Fink.

Terry, Walter. 1976. Ted Shawn: Father of American Dance. New York: The Dial Press.

Wagner, Ann. 1997. Adversaries of Dance: From the Puritans to the Present. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.

Waille, Franck. 2012. “Les deux sources des enseignements de Delsarte: observations et métaphysique. De la multitude des signes à leur organisation systématique.” In Kodikas, Code – Ars Semeiotica 35 (3/4), edited by Mathias Spohr: 213–38.

Warburg, Aby. 2010. “Dürer und die italienische Antike (1905).” In Werke in einem Band, edited by Martin Treml, Sigrid Weigel, and Perdita Ludwig, 176–86. Berlin: Suhrkamp.

Wedemeyer-Kolwe, Bernd. 2012. “François Delsarte und die deutsche Körperkulturbewegung.“ In Kodikas, Code – Ars Semeiotica 35 (3/4), edited by Mathias Spohr: 314–18.

Wenger, Tisa J. 2006. “The Practice of Dance for the Future of Christianity: ‘Eurythmic Worship’ in New York’s Roaring Twenties.” In Practicing Protestants: Histories of Christian Life in America, 1630–1965, edited by Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, Leigh E. Schmidt, and Mark Valeri, 222–249. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press.

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1922. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Translated by Frank P. Ramsey and Charles Kay Ogden. London: Routledge.

Zander, Helmut. 2001. “Körper Religion: Ausdruckstanz um 1900: Loïe Fuller, Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis.” In Protestantismus und Ästhetik: Religionskulturelle Transformationen am Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts, edited by Volker Drehsen, Wilhelm Gräb, and Dietrich Korsch, 197–232. Gütersloh: Kaiser.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.31168

Copyright (c) 2017 Alexander Schwan

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.