From Odd Encounters to a Prospective Confluence: Dance-Philosophy


  • Bojana Cvejić Independent scholar



This text inquires into the relationship between Western philosophy and Western theatre dance from their odd encounters in modernity to the current affiliations between contemporary choreographic poetics, critical theory and contemporary philosophical thought. The point of departure for the inquiry is a discussion of the three problems that have structured the historically vexed relationship between dance and philosophy: dance’s belated acquisition of the status of an art discipline, the special ontological status of the work of dance, and the limits of dance’s meaning-production set by the theme of bodily movement’s “ephemerality” and “disappearance.” After critically examining the approaches of Alain Badiou and Jacques Rancière in whose philosophies dance is relegated to a metaphor or, even worse, to an ahistorical conduit for a general ontology, the author makes a case for another movement of thought that arises in dance practice and is at the same time philosophical, rooted in Spinoza’s (and Deleuze’s) principle of expression. Demonstrating how choreographers, like Xavier Le Roy and Jonathan Burrows, create by “posing problems,” Cveji? presents a theory of “expressive concepts,” whereby choreography contributes to a philosophical rethinking of the relationship between the body, movement and time. This points to the new prospects of a kind of “dance-philosophy,” in which the epistemic hierarchy is reversed: the stake is no longer in what philosophy could do for dance, but how an experimental, radically pragmatic orientation in dance offers a practical framework for theorizing perception, concept-formation and other philosophical issues.

Author Biography

Bojana Cvejić, Independent scholar

Bojana Cvejić (Belgrade) is a performance theorist and maker based in Brussels, and a co-founding member of the TkH editorial collective ( Cvejić holds degrees in musicology and philosophy (PhD, Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy, London). Since 1996, she has (co-)authored and collaborated in many dance and theatre performances with J. Ritsema, X. Le Roy, E. Salamon, M. Ingvartsen, and E. Hrvatin. Her latest books areChoreographing Problems: Expressive Concepts in European Contemporary Dance and Performance (Palgrave, forthcoming),Drumming & Rain: A Choreographer’s Score, co-written with A. T. De Keersmaeker (Mercator, Brussels, 2014), Parallel Slalom: Lexicon of Nonaligned Poetics, co-edited with G. S. Pristaš (TkH/CDU, Belgrade/Zagreb, 2013), and Public Sphere by Performance, co-written with A. Vujanović (b_books, Berlin, 2012). Cvejić teaches at various dance and performance programmes throughout Europe (e.g. P.A.R.T.S. Brussels). Her latest works include the exhibition Danse Guerre at CCN Rennes (2013) and Spatial Confessions at Tate Modern (2014).


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How to Cite

Cvejić, B. (2015). From Odd Encounters to a Prospective Confluence: Dance-Philosophy. Performance Philosophy, 1(1), 7–23.



Performance Philosophy - Pasts, Presents, Futures