Talking Back: What Dance might make of Badiou’s philosophical project


  • Erin Brannigan UNSW



Badiou, philosophy, dance, Lyotard, Deleuze


This paper approaches Badiou’s essay, ‘Dance as a Metaphor for Thought,’ on its own terms, considering its stated approach and central claims. This is in order to avoid the indignant tone of some responses from the field that desire other approaches to philosophy’s engagement with dance. Badiou’s project in ‘Dance as a Metaphor for Thought’ is antithetical to my own current, advocatory research, thus offering an adversary of sorts. If it is the case that dance is ‘instrumental’ for the art-philosophy schema that Badiou is formulating, that is, being ‘incorporated’ into the strategies of a philosophy of art, what’s in it for dance? Can Badiou’s project be repurposed for our own disciplinary concerns? For instance, if his conception of dance (drawn from past philosophical accounts and for his own purposes) is seen as lacking from a disciplinary perspective, then what is the idea of dance that positions his as ‘wrong’?

Author Biography

Erin Brannigan, UNSW

Dr. Erin Brannigan is Senior Lecturer in Dance at the University of New South Wales and works in the fields of dance and film as a writer, academic and curator. 

Erin has written on dance for RealTime since 1997, and her publications include Moving Across Disciplines: Dance in the Twenty-First Century (Sydney: Currency House, 2010), Dancefilm: Choreography and the Moving Image (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011) and Bodies of Thought: 12 Australian Choreographers, co-edited with Virginia Baxter (Kent Town: Wakefield Press, 2014). She has published articles in journals such as Senses of Cinema, Writings on Dance, Brolga, Dance Research Journal, Performance Paradigm, Broadsheet, Runway and International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media alongside several book chapters.

Her current research projects are After Rauschenberg – Composition: Movement: Experiment (with choreographers Matthew Day and Lizzie Thomson), New Paradigms for Performance Pedagogies (UNSW T&L Grant with Bryoni Trezise) and Dancing Our City (with Julie-Anne Long and Amanda Card).

Erin’s curatorial work is documented at:


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How to Cite

Brannigan, E. (2019). Talking Back: What Dance might make of Badiou’s philosophical project. Performance Philosophy, 4(2), 354–373.