Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Spiritual Corporeality: Towards Embodied Gnosis through a Dancing Language

Very generally speaking, this study aims at questioning and re-defining the mind-body epistemic problem within contemporary dance and art culture.

The artistic-epistemic aim of this investigation is to unveil new perspectives on relations between the sensible and the intuitively intelligible. It is my aim to weave ‘corporeal theory’ and ‘discursive practice’ together into a ‘dancing language’. This dancing language conducts movement and thought from a state of being suspended between the physically sensible and the intuitively intelligible towards a place where they come together. ‘Corporeal theory’ refers to embodied as well as verbal reflections on dance experience as seen from my perspective. The ‘discursive practice’ engages thought in dialogue with perspectives from physics and psychology on the one hand and metaphysics and revelation on the other.

The interaction between ‘corporeal theory’ and ‘discursive practice’ and its resulting ‘dancing language’ supports the main argument: that the dancing body can act as a creative interface between the physical and the metaphysical. The dancing body is attuned to become a vehicle for perception and cognition that investigates and communicates numinous dimensions of embodied experience.

The gap between a wordless corporeal and a verbal, interrogating discourse is bridged by three key concepts: ‘spiritual corporeality’, ‘altered states of knowing’ and ‘embodied gnosis’. Outcomes of this investigation are a dance and music performance that enacts radical openings towards the unknown; a research documentation based on the method of retrospective dance writing by annotating videos of the creative process; and a written dissertation. Together, they unfold meaning, uniting dichotomies between gravity and levity, between physis and psyche, between matter and spirit. The aim is to better understand the nature and potential meaning of deep incorporation of consciousness and its evolving expression.

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