Performing with the Masquerade: Towards a Corporeal Reconstitution of Sophie Taeuber’s Dada Performances


  • Christel Stalpaert Ghent University
  • Sophie Doutreligne Ghent University



dadaism, taeuber, performance, puppetry


This contribution aims for a “corporeal reconstitution” (Irigaray) of Sophie Taeuber’s (1889-1943) dance performances at the Cabaret Voltaire and the Galerie Dada in 1916/17. This means that the movements from the static images informing the history of Dada art need to be re-imagined. It implies a rendering perceptible of Taeuber’s trained dancer’s body, its particular movements, and the quality of these movements. Through testimonies of contemporaries, it becomes clear that Taeuber not only dances in a costume or behind a mask but with the mask, the costume and sound poems. The reconstitution of the moving body with the mask thus points at a foregrounding of the masquerade to which she is convicted as a woman. Her mimetic strategy (Irigaray) or playful repetition of the masquerade entails a “radically new mode of relating” (Obler 2009, 223) between human and non-human materiality. Taeuber is not only moving in between puppet and puppeteer, movement and stasis, abstraction and expressivity, performer and mask, presence and absence, but also in between feminine and masculine. The hybrid movements in her mimetic strategy disrupt the binary nature of the oppositional pairs. In dancing the perpetual movement in between dualities, through a patchwork of genres and materials (her drawings, embroideries and tapestries are also driven by kinetic forces), Taeuber not only playfully rebels against patriarchal discourse, but also against the dehumanizing effects of World War One violently raging through Europe. 

Author Biographies

Christel Stalpaert, Ghent University

Prof. Dr. Christel Stalpaert (°1971) is Full Professor at Ghent University (Belgium) where she is director of the research centres S:PAM (Studies in Performing Arts and Media) and PEPPER (Philosophy, Ethology, Politics and Performance). Her main areas of research are the performing arts, dance and new media arts at the meeting-point of philosophy. 

Sophie Doutreligne, Ghent University

Sophie Doutreligne (°1989) studied Theatre studies at Ghent University, worked in different theatre companies as a business manager and is affiliated to Ghent University within the research group S:PAM where she started her PhD research Dadaist gender play and the metaphor of the machine in wartime Europe and America (1916-1922) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Christel Stalpaert and Prof. Dr. Sascha Bru (KU Leuven).


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How to Cite

Stalpaert, Christel, and Sophie Doutreligne. 2019. “Performing With the Masquerade: Towards a Corporeal Reconstitution of Sophie Taeuber’s Dada Performances”. Performance Philosophy 4 (2):528-45.