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Ideas of Selfhood in Movement: Gaga, Subjectivity, and Embodiment in Contemporary Dance By Wendy Rucci A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the remainder for the degree Bachelor o f Arts Under t he sponsorship of Maribeth Clark Sarasota, Florida April 20 13
!! Dedication In dedicating this thesis to one or many particular persons, I have no doubt I will leave out someone of importance. Therefore, I will only dedicate this thesis t owards contemporary movement systems that inspire change in classical notions of dance performance and towards all persons working towards achieving similar goals. Also to my Henri, my loving (albeit at times un loving cat). Henri is pronounced (ahn REE ) The connection between knowledge (savoir) and power is thus made manifest, although thi s in no way interdicts a critical and subversive form of knowledge (connaissance); on the contrary it points up the antagonism between a knowledge which serves po wer and a form of knowing which refuses to acknowledge power. Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space
!!! Acknowledgements The process of writing this thesis could not be done without the following people doing the following things: Megan L yons There are too many things you do for me to recount them on a document of such quantifiable length. I'm glad the process is over so we can watch the soaps again Nicole Hokayem Living with me and dealing with me must have been hard. Thanks for all th e quality time. Jordan Royal My oldest friend. Soon we will be twenty five and I will have known you longer than I haven't Adams McRae Little kitkat, think of all the time we have now for board games. Josh Edelstein Let's live together forever or at l east next year. I'm going to make you brush my hair all the time. Mar Echevarria My one and only true mermaid. Alexander Wilson Is it S unday yet? 47th Street The distractions were numerous and necessary. Thank you for making me do things. Leymis Bolan os Wilmott My actions will speak more than these words. Flesh is our language Maribeth Clark This was long and complica ted. Thank you for the therapy you make me feel adequate. You are the manifestation of what I believe academia can and should achiev e. Aron Edid i n You have been so willing and wonderful. Thank you for investing yourself in my work even when I didn't know what I was doing. Steve Miles Thank you for working so hard for the intersection of arts and academia. Linda and Louis Rucci Than ks for making me go to a liberal arts college and not an arts college. Money well spent...hopefully. To everyone unnamed, thank you.
!# CONTENTS ABSTRACT .................................................... .................................................................. ... .v INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................................... ... ....1 CHAPTER I Batsheva Dance Company, Oh ad Naharin and Ga ga............9 Historical Overview........................... .............................10 Development of Gaga....................... ..............................13 Theoretical and Physiological Fo rms...........................19 Experi ence of a Gaga Class.............. ..............................25 CHAPTER II Phenomenological Implications of G aga as an Epistemic Endeavor For Dancers ..................................................... .......... .28 Phenomenological Beginnings ........ ..............................30 Cartesian Duality: A Separate Mind and Body......... .33 Merleau Ponty: Integrated S ubject/Object.................35 Intersubjectivity: The Body is Public.. ..........................37 CHAPTER I II Integration and Gaga.......... ...................... ................... ............. ..42 Batsheva Summer Intensive in Tel Aviv.....................42 Gaga and Choreography........................ ........................43 The Relationship B etween Dancer and Choreographer as an Effect of Gaga......... .................. ..............................46 Exploring My Own Subjectivity Through Movement.......................................... ..............................49 CONCLUSI ON ....................................... .. ........................................... .............................. 53 BIBLIOGRAPHY ......................... ... ...................................................... ..............................56
# I deas of Selfhood in Movement: Gaga, Subjectivity, and Embodiment in Contemporary Dance Wendy Rucci New College of Florida, 2013 Abstract This thesis explores how the role of the dancer has shifted in contemporary movement systems, specifically Oha d Naharin's "movement la nguage" Gaga. I apply Maurice Me rleau Ponty's phenomenal notions of embodiment, subjectivity, and intersubjectivity in order to describe how Gaga training suggests a re imagination of the dancer/choreographer and dancer/performer re lationship through investigative profiles. Because Gaga is so new (it was created only twenty years ago) it has yet to be explored through an analytic or critical lens. This thesis is meant to be a jumping off point in order to initiate a discussion on Gag a and how Gaga training re defines the body as a site of subjectivity, rather than a vehicle of movement. In doing so, Gaga invites the dancer to be an autonomous agent one who makes decisions and expresses aspects of her Self while moving. Maribeth Clark Performance Studies
1 Introduction In contemporary dance there has been a distinct shift in the frameworks employed to analyze and create movement. This shift is described by a direction away from classical movement techniques such as ballet and towards contemporary movemen t systems that offer holistic investigative profiles that can be participated in regardless of technical background. These movement systems are characterized by a notion of access, a belief that anyone can create and explore movement. Such movement systems provide tools fo r the mind and for the body to help participants think about the ir body in motion. Participants, which I will now refer to as dancers, focus on incorporating verbal instructions into action. These verbal instructions become the exercises w hich prepare the body for motion. However, a dancer has full agency in her interpretation of the instructions and can manipulate them to concentrate on what she desires Exercises can help prepare for rehearsal o r for performance, but they primarily functi on as body research, bringing awareness to all parts of the body and mind and opening up new possibilities.
2 The movement system I will discuss in this thesis is Gaga, a "movement language" developed by Ohad Naharin. Gaga looks at the relationship between the body, the individual, and his or her movement. It incites questions concerning how movement is created, how it can be articulated and explored individually, as well as allows the dancer to reevaluate her body in regard to dance movement and performance Gaga encourages dancers to learn and expand their limits in movement. They learn to move efficiently through an understanding of the mobility of component parts and natural biodynamics. Gaga asks the dancer to actively discover solutions to problems in h er individual dancing body. There is no imposed ideal of what a dancing body is nor does Gaga give pre described solutions. Gaga training allows dancers to invest in not only their development of movement, but also provides a process for personal research. Although Gaga is not a method of creating choreography, it is a source of inspiration. Because it offers a resource for mov ement and personal research it e ffects artistic expression in an expansive way. The tools Gaga offers a choreographer or dancer co nsist of new ways to think about movement dynamics such as time and space, a range of textures and qualities to play with, and a place to investigate one's own creative interests. Gaga promotes a limitless range of possibilities for a dancer. For my own w ork, I look at Gaga training as a way to find a better awareness of myself, which I can then extend into both my dancing and choreography. I find Gaga makes it pos sible for the dancer's body and
3 movement to be a site of subjectivity, one which showcases di fference. In a dance performance, rather than seeing a body conform to some external expectation, Gaga gives dancer s tools to show others what the audience do es n't see in themselves. Therefore, Gaga strives to look past technique and show dancers how to ex press their humanity, pre paring them to use movement as a performance of self, to speak of their desires, weaknesses, strengths. For choreographers, Gaga opens up possibilities of movement. Because it is predicated on improvisation and moving efficientl y, Gaga expands vocabulary as well as understandings of the body. It prepares choreographers to recognize difference in themselves and extend this notion into celebrating differences in the dancers they work with. Choreographers training in Gaga are taught to acknowledge that dancers are not static objects whose function is to express his or her ideas. Rather Gaga suggests the relationship between dancers and choreographer is always collaborative, w ith the result being an artistic interpretation. To unders tand why Gaga should be considered when investigating contemporary dance movement systems I examine Rudolf Von Laban's Choreutics which fails, I argue, to adequately represent the contemporary dancing body. Laban published Choreutics in 1966, describing hi s theory and practice of space harmony. By "space harmony" he means natural movement pathways of the body as it interacts with space. Laban comprised a series of geometric polyhedra to reflect the body and what he believed were objective bodily
4 networks. 1 He used the networks to describe pathways of natural human motion in order to increase the body's spatial awareness and its efficiency of movement. Although Laban's work is widely used by dancers now, it was originally meant to describe "natural human moti on." Specifically, Laban's initial inter est was in the working class, finding ways to make movement more efficient for factory workers. However, such a scientific analysis of movement becomes problematic when attempting to apply Laban's work to a creative framework. The objective framework that choreutics employs to analyze human motion limits the discussion of individuals. It prevents the body and the body's movement from being a site of subjectivity, instead reducing all bodies to a geometric mode l It falsely assumes one body's movement patterns could be indicative of all bodies. Claiming there are absolute movement patterns suggests there is also an absolute body, which in turn assumes any body that deviates from this model is abnormal. This type of th ought is dangerous, especially when regarding movement and dance, as it creates a binary of abled versus disabled. Limiting what a "proper" dancer should look or move like in turn excludes many efforts of contemporary dance companies. In the past twenty y ears contemporary dan cer companies have strived to showcase difference, re evaluating perceptions o f what a dancer is or can be Companies on one side of the spectrum, such as London based Candoco and Tampa's REVolutions, consist of dancers from many diffe rent skill levels and 1 Rudolf Von Laban, Choreutics ed. Lisa Ulmann (Dance Book s Ltd, 2011), 7.
5 abilities performing choreography that exhibits inclusivity. On the other side are companies like Batsheva Ohad Naharin's dance company in Tel Aviv, that are interested in redefining conceptions of the dancing body and self with the Gaga movement language, while at the same time maintaining a technical virtuosity in the dancers they employ and the choreography they perform. Despite this virtuosity, Gaga, Ohad Naharin's movement language, suggests dancers are not merely instruments of movement, but people who express their humanity for an audience thro ugh movement. Movement is a vehicle, a method used to perform their sense of Self for others. Gaga aims to create autonomous individuals: individuals who make decisions, have feelings and tell stories. These dancers are conscious of ho w they share movement and make choices on what they want to express to their audience. In Gaga, the dancer is presented in her time on stage, body explored, individuality made salient, but she is accessible to others because she and her movement is conceptualized as a site of subjectivity. Unlike other forms of dance that utilize "beauty" or a particular vocabuary to engage audiences, Gaga proposes audiences become more enga ged when seeing dancers as both peopl e and movement. In other words, dancers and their movement must be embodied be both subjects and objects. To approach such a unique bodily perspective I argue that the dancing body of Gaga exemplifies the body as described by Merleau Ponty in his 1966 wor k, Phenomenology of Perception As a site of subjectivity and objectivity the dancing body transcends notions of both and exists as neither pure object nor pure subject. This dual nature makes the dancing body ambiguous, existing in a
6 marginal state. 2 Bein g able to both perceive and be perceived suggests a transparency which allows the dancing body to access and be accessed by others. In claiming transparency, I mean to argue that the dancing body's subjectivity is public and the world it exists in is also public. Dan Zahavi notes what he calls the publicity of the body as well as the world makes it possible for subjectivity to inherently involve others: The world we live in is a public and communal world, not a private one. Subjectivity and world are inter nally related, and since the structure of this world contains essential references to others, subjectivity cannot be understood except as inhabiting a world that it necessarily shares with others. 3 The dancing body, itself being a perceptual object and a site of subjectivity within the world, can only be constituted in relation to others, in intersubjectivity. 4 Zahavi further claims, "Intersubjectivity develops only in relation between world related subjects, and the world is brought into articulation only in the relation between subjects." 5 In suggesting a shared world, intersubjectivity claims experience of the world is available to anyone and proposes a link between self and others. For the dancing body to be 2 Maurice Merleau Ponty Phenomenology of Perception trans. Routledge and Kegan Paul, (London: Taylor and Francis e Library, 2005), 98. 3 Dan Zahavi, Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the First Person Perspective (Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2005), 167. 4 "It is the fact that the "perceptual object" is there for both me and others which is why its i ntrinsically intersubjective." I bid.,166. 5 I bid., 176 177.
7 intersubjective then the world "must be seen as a common field of experience" which encompasses not only the audience, but other dancing bodies as well. 6 The subjectivity of the dancing body may then be accessed and shared with others. In three chapters, each of which looks at Gaga and how it propos es dancers to reevaluate the relationship between their body and dancing, I argue the body must be re conceptualized as a site of subjectivity in order to create efficacious and engagi ng dance performance. To accomplish this goal my s tructure is as follows : in the first chapter I outline Gaga's historical narrative, examine it s salient features, and describe the structure of a Gaga class. The second chapter presents a phenomenological analysis of Gaga, specifically looking at the body of Gaga as being a sit e of intersubjectivity, embodied movement, and the body itself as a corporeal consciousness. My third chapter looks at one choreographic work by Ohad Naharin, an alyzing how training in Gaga affects the way dancers are perceived in a performative environmen t. This chapter also includes a description of my own thesis performance and reflect on how it situates itself wit h the aforementioned phenomenal concepts of selfhood, movement, subjectivity, and embodiment In sum, this thesis looks at Ohad Naharin's mo vement language, Gaga, and describes Gaga training as a movement system that enhances a dancer's accessi bility on stage. It promotes a d ancer's individual body and her movement as a site of subjectivity, providing an audience with an experience of individu ated expressions of humanity. I apply phenomenological thought 6 I bid., 177.
8 regarding embodiment, intersubjectivity, and subjectivity to my own understanding of Gaga as a framing methodology. Finally, m y own artistic endeavor applies Gaga and its tools to provide a le ns for the choreographic process in order to bring a dancer's subjectivity to the foreground in dance performance.
9 Chapter I Batsheva Dance Company, Ohad Naharin, and Gaga In order to describe the phenomenological implications of the body Gaga const ructs, one must understand Gaga, its historical narrative and its ideological underpinnings. Gaga is a young movement system, only coming into its own eleven years ago in 19 90. Therefore, the discussion on Gaga lacks the deep intellectual work that explain s what it does ideaologically for the body and the dancer So far the only places one can read about Gaga are person al blogs, newspaper articles, and interviews; however, most of these publications involve Naharin speaking about his own choreographic proce ss and choreography, briefly mentioning Gaga's existence and touching on small aspects of it. This type of writing lacks reflective analysis of what Gaga contributes to movement and dancers in contemporary dance. With this thesis I aim to initiate the disc ussion of Gaga in academic discourse and describe its implications for c ontemporary dance in the twenty first century.
10 Historical Overview Batsheva Dance Company, Israel's leading contemporary dance company, is a different company today than it was i n 1946. Originally founded by the Baroness Batsheva de Rothschild as a Martha Graham repertory company, Batsheva Dance Company exclusively performed works by Martha Graham and the dancers trained only in Graham Technique. Since Graham left Batsheva has g one through many changes in artistic directors working with such dancers/choreographers as Jane Dudley, Norman Walker, Brian MacDonald, William Louther, Kaj Lothman, and many others. 7 All of these artistic directors had different choreographic visions, set ting repertory from European, American, and local Israeli artists. 8 During this time, t he dancers had a primarily ballet based training program during this time. However, when Ohad Naharin came to Batsheva he introduced Gaga into the dancer's trai nin g gradually eliminating ballet altogether. In 1990 Israeli native, Ohad Naharin, was appointed the artistic director of Batsheva. He was born in Kibbutz Mizra to a dance teacher mother; howev er, he only begin dancing at the late age of twenty two. Naha rin joined the Batsheva Dance Company as a dancer in 1974, where he was discovered by Graham who invited him to joi n her dance company in New York City. 9 He followed her to the 7 Batsheva, "Batsheva Dance Com pany," Batsheva Dance Company, 2013, http://www.batsheva.co.il/en/ 8 Ibid. 9 Ibid.
11 United States and continued his dance training first at the Juilliard School o f Music and then at the School of American Ballet. Upon finishing his studies, Naharin danced with a number of prominent contemporary dance companies such as Maurice Bjart's Ballet du XXe Sicle and Isr a e l's Bat Dor Dance Company. In 1980 he began showing his choreography in New York, where he created his own group the Ohad Naharin Dance Company. During this time he was commissioned to choreograph works for prominent companies such as Batsheva, Nederlands Dans Theatre, and Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Compa ny. 10 In 1990 Naharin was invited to become artistic director of Batsheva, a position he has held since, other than a one year hiatus during the 2003 2004 season. 11 Although Naharin was heavily influenced by Graham because his initial tr aining at Batsheva wa s in Graham technique, his choreographic style and vision differ greatly from hers When Naharin came to Batsheva as artistic director he changed the dancer s training program from ballet to his own movement language called Gaga. Naharin's choreography als o differs from Graham's classical modern repetory. This difference was due in large part to Naharin's use of Gaga as Batsheva's pr imary form of training, which effect s th e way Batsheva dancers present themselves and their movement to audiences. 10 Ibid. 11 Ibid.
12 Other than Naharin, there are two resident choreographers, Sharon Eyal and Gair Behar, who set contemporary works for the Batsheva company. They push the company repertoire in a more experimental direction, taking advantage of how Gaga training has changed the way B atsheva dancers conceptualize movement and themselves. One review of Eyal's 2011 piece titled House characterized the choreography as risky, making the interviewer feel that Eyal led her "into some shady back alley of the dance world that I wasn't sure I should be allowed to visit." 12 This type of choreography is possible because Gaga training expands dancers range of projection as well as their movement. Gaga pushes dancers to find new ways of sharing ideas with their audience, especially when these idea s involve complex structures and overlapping themes. Since coming into his position as artistic director and introducing the Gaga movement language, Naharin has expanded the company to include a junior ensemble, the Batsheva Ensemble, which functions as a training company for the main company. 13 Usually dancers stay in the Batsheva Ensemble for a year before joining Batsheva. This younger group of dancers, ages 18 24, train daily in Gaga to research movement, honing their ability to move m ulti dimensionally. Concentration in so much Gaga training gives these young dancers time to find their own way of moving, to explore ways that movement 12 Ori J. Lenkinski, Love letter to dance: Eyal reveals g enius in 'House' and 'Bill'," 972 Mag January 31, 2012, http://972mag.com/love letter to dance eyal reveals genius in house and bill/34300/ 13 Batsheva, "Batsheva Dance Company," Batsheva Dance Company, 2013, http:/ /www.batsheva.co.il/en/
13 can describe their individuality and sense of self. This time is an important developmental period for young dancers as it turns them into people rather than bodies that dance. The Ensemble also carries out Batsheva's educational agenda, delivering Gaga classes and repertory workshops at dance schools, holding open rehearsals, and participating in outreach activities in the community. 14 The main company performs regularly in Israel as well as tours internationally. In 1990 Gaga could only be experienced by traveling to Tel Aviv, where the Batsheva studios are located. However, in recent years as Gaga has gai ned popularity, a certification program was created to train dancers in the methods of teaching Gaga. Ohad Naharin has now trained two cycles of teachers who teach Gaga all over the world. Gaga dance intensives are taught by certified Gaga teachers and are offered throughout the year in cities such as New York, Amsterdam, and Barcelona. Development of Gaga G aga did not begin with Batsheva; rather the company provided Naharin resources to continue developing a movement language he had started in New Yor k. He first began developing and shaping his own movement language with the Ohad Naharin Da nce Company in New York in 1980; however th is movement lang uage then had not yet become Gaga as it known today. Naharin's development of Gaga was influenced by thr ee conditions: suffering a serious back injury in 1987, becoming the artistic director of Batsheva 14 Ibid.
14 in 1990, and a desire for movement exploration without an ambition for the stage. Naharin's back injury occurred while performing with his dancers (in the O had Naharin Dance Company) in upstate New York. 15 Upon seeing a doctor, he was diagnosed with herniated discs resulting from multiple factors ranging from dancing on concrete floors to not warming up properly. 16 During his recovery Naharin was forced to expl ore many different rehabilitative venues such as tai chi, pilates, feldenkrais, and swimming. In attempting to explore movement again after h is back injury, Naharin had to use these methods of moving to strengthen and heal his body. 17 In doing so these mov ement pedagogies illuminated new ways of moving that combined efficiency and natural biodynamics. Naharin saw how movement could simultaneously be a method of healing as well exploration. Gaga is heavily based on this idea and uses efficient movement and n atural physical pathways to both explore new movement possibilities while also strengthening and preserving the physical state of a dancer's body. In 1990, when Naharin came to Batsheva as artistic director, Gaga had not fully come into its own. It reflect ed Naharin's person al style of moving, one that, 15 Zachary Wittenburg, "Critical Correspondence: Ohad Naharin in conversation with Zachary Whittenburg," Movement Research February 13, 2011, http://www.movementresearch.org/criticalcorrespondence/blog/?p=5174 16 Ibid. 17 Out of Focus directed by Tomer Heymann (Israel: Heymann Brothers Film, 2007), DVD.
15 was still in its early stages, and needed more time to mature Naharin's movement style 18 was something vis ible in his choreography and when he danced but it was n o t yet a externalized movement system that c ould be articulated and used by other dancers. Coming to Batsheva forced Naharin to continue developing Gaga towards something that could be shared. He had to work closely with these new dancers, seeing what they needed personally and movement wise. Nahari n describes in an interview; I didn't only develop what was good for me, but I had to develop what was good for other dancers: recognising one's weaknesses, getting in touch with efficiency of movement and multi dimensional movement, explosive power, the c onnection bet ween pleasure, pain, and effort... things that constantly push my dancers beyond familiar limits. 19 In systematizing his style, Naharin externalized his personal style so it could be reflected on and analyzed. Rather than something internally m anifested, it became an object that Naharin could shape according to what the Batsheva dancers needed. The dancers at Batsheva were able to take this object, Gaga, inter pret and manipulate it to explore themselves and their dancing body. This process sol id ified Gaga into a movement system as it was no longer aesthetically driven or merely an internal manifestation of Naharin. Gaga shapes all aspects of a dancer; including the body, emotions, passions, rationale, creativity, and pain. Its existence relies on the participation of other dancers to 18 I use the term style to refer to refer to a personal way of moving that is not an articulated system. One's style arises out of a personal movement endeavor and lacks the structure a dance technique or movement system would have. 19 Ohad Naharin, interv iew by Andi Lawson Moore, ArtsZine 30 September, Melbourne Festival, September 30, 2012.
16 keep it continually evolving as a movement language in the structure of a movement system The final variable influencing Naharin's development of Gaga came from a need for Gaga outside of choreography. A request made by a non dancer hearing of the Gaga training Batsheva dancers participated in daily initiated the development of Gaga for people generally rather than only for professional dancers. The non dancer was interested in taking Gaga classes b ut did not have th e same technical background that a professional dancer would have. She wanted a dance class that was accessible regardless of dance experience. 20 Naharin developed Gaga to accommodate. In an interview Naharin describes the process: I met with six people, n one of them dancers, twice a week. Out of that came something very influenti al to the development of Gaga that it is a way of conditioning and taking care of your body that has nothing to do with the ambition to be onstage. 21 Out of this development came a n important notion of Gaga that is true for professional dancers and non dancers alike: Gaga is not a dance technique always meant to be performed. It has a therapeutic element that can be separated from the performative A participant need not have obtain ed a certain skill level 20 Ibid. 21 Ibid.
17 to take Gaga classes. In fact, the participant needs no dance experience at all in a Gaga for the People class. 22 Gaga is helpful in preparing the dancing body for whatever challenges it may face. If one were to watch professional d ancers who train in Gaga in a performance setting, they could not point to specific movements indicative of Gaga. This is why Gaga is a movement system, a way of training that is not a technique or pedagogy. It is not defined by codified movement. It is no t aesthetically or shape oriented. Instead, a Gaga class invites a participant to reevaluate his or her own movement and body. Unlike ballet, Gaga does no t render the body a reflection that should be shaped accordingly. To this end, there are no mirrors in the studios. Naharin stated his feelings on mirrors in an interview: "Abolish mirrors; break your mirrors in all studios. Dance is about sensations, not about an image of yourself." 23 The purpose of Gaga is not to achieve virtuosity and skill. One cannot b ecome a "great Gaga dancer" because there is no such thing. 22 Gaga for the People classes are open to people ages 16+, regardless of their background in dance or movement. They last for one hour and are tau ght by dancers who have worked closely with Ohad Naharin in the Batsheva Ensemble or Batsheva Dance Company Teachers guide the participants using a series of evocative instructions that build one on top of the o ther. Rather than copying a particular movement, each participant in the class actively explores these instructions, discovering how he or she can interpret the information and perform the task at hand. These classes offer a creative framework for particip ants to connect to their bodies and imaginations, increase their physical awareness, improve their flexibility and stamina, and experience the pleasure of movement in a welcoming, accepting atmosphere. Batsheva, "Batsheva Dance Company," Batsheva Dance Com pany, 2013, http://www.batsheva.co.il/en/ 23 Ohad Naharin, interview by Wendy Perron, A Conversation with Ohad Dance Magazine October 2006.
18 Rather, Gaga gives people a place to explore their bodies, their ability to move, and their own individual creativity, while simultaneously strengthening and taking care of their bodies. In this way Gaga is something altogether different from a technique such as ballet or modern A Gaga class lacks the rigidness in structure that characterizes a technique. As Naharin explains, "You don't want to recognize the method; instead we use it to help us b ecome more sensitive, more alert." 24 Instead of an imposed structure or method, Gaga is a toolbox from which one can pull different "tools" or exercises. Like words, these tools can be combined in many ways to create and invoke new ideas or new movement. Th is is why Gaga is a movement system a a way of training that promotes communication and inquiry. Thus far I have presented Gaga as a movement system created by Ohad Naharin that can be practiced by dancers and non dancers alike. The work of Gaga is very much a personal endeavor founded in experience, and its effects extend into the lives of those who train in it. To better understand the effects of Gaga, though, one must know the ideology behind Gaga as well as what it feels like to participate in class. This next section describes the experiential aspect of Gaga and the experience of taking a class. 24 Ibid.
19 Theoretical and Physiological Forms In order to make Gaga a movement system that was accessible to others, Naharin had to clarify the format of a class as well as the language used to describe the concepts of Gaga. Naharin developed unique verbal instructions that are repeated in the same way no matter where one is taking class. The same terms and metaphors are used regardless of who is teaching, giving a c ohesiveness to classes. The tools and exercises used in Gaga are systematized so that dancers can work on one at any point, even outside of class. In doing this Naharin makes Gaga available to be spread outside of Batsheva. There are four theoretical form s of Gaga and four physiological forms. 25 The aim of Gaga is to explore these eight basic forms in order to expand one's possibilities of movement, engage one's emotions and thoughts with their body, and explore one's individual self. In doing this the danc er initiates mental and physical consciousness, gains strength and flexibility, and enhances creative movement. These forms are tools that can be explored one by one or combined. When explored together, layered on top of each other, the tools inspire multi dimensional movement invested with a mental and physical consciousness. 25 Other than the eight forms I describe there are multipl e exercises and actions that one does to play with these forms in and on the body. Exercises such as quaking awaken the lena and replenish a fatigued body. Thinking about the skin as very thick or very soft lends itself to awaken places of numbness that on e has. This is helpful when trying to break away from familiar patterns and habits. I don't list all of the exercises one may do to access and explore these forms because it would a tedious job to do so. Rather I express what these exercises attempt to get at by describing the form they are attributed with. Certain exercises may also work towards layering multiple forms on top of each other to create multidimensional movement. To describe how each exercise does this would become arbitrary and repetitive.
20 Therefore it encompasses the mental, emotional, and physical aspects of a dancer. The first theoretical form is what Naharin refers to as "pleasure." Naharin speaks of finding pleasure in moving and connecting pleasure to movement. When Naharin says "pleasure" he means the emotional and menta l aspect of an individual, as well as thoughts and ideas, passions, likes and dislikes. At times Naharin will say, "Connect with your pleasure, tas te something good in your mouth, smell it in your nose and hear it in your ears. Find pleasure in your movement." This verbal instruction is meant to bring awareness to the mind body consciousness. Naharin describes the mental/emotional as pleasure because it is more accessible to think about. The mind is given weight, a sort of tangibility, when it is correlated with pleasure. Dancers can explore pleasure, which is really their selfhood, and attach this sensibility to their quality of movement. Movement th en becomes a site of subjectivity, showcasing difference in individuals. Pleasure gives one's movement a certain individual essence, a personal nature. Connecting effort with pleasure is also a staple phrase in a Gaga class. Naharin often remarks, "We lear n to love our sweat, we discover our passion to move and connect it to effort." 26 Pleasure therefore also suggests making the body conscious, bringing awareness to the physicality of the body. He correlates pleasure to effort in order to sense weakness in t he body and combat that weakness to gain strength and flexibility. Naharin views effort as the sensibility 26 Out of Focus directed by Tomer Heymann (Israel: Heymann Brothers Film, 2007), DVD.
21 of the body working, the burning sensation of muscles. Pleasure gives the body energy in times of fatigue. This is a way of disciplining the body to make it sensitive to the mind. Similar to Hatha Yoga, the notion of pleasure makes salient the mind body consciousness by disciplining the body and awakening the mind. A Gaga class is primarily improvisational, meaning movement is not initially given to dancers to replicate. Rather dancers use the verbal instructions to incite individual interpretation through movement. Naharin found improvisation forced dancers to confront their habits and patterns and once confronted dancers could stop repeating them An improvising dancer is asked to be cognitive of their actions, and maintain an awareness of movement they are doing. Knowing what one does allows dancers to acknowledge what is not done. Therefore, Gaga asks dancers to think of other possibilities of mov ement beyond the habitual. The i mprovisational aspect pushes dancers out of their comfort zone expanding their movement boundaries. In the act of improvisation Gaga dancers are taught to recognize their habits and patterns, framing them as problems to be s olved. That this is possible suggests a mind body consciousness allowing dancers to make choices regarding their own movement. The Gaga dancer is looking to obtain creative autonomy, being a subject of the movement they create with their body. There is bot h an internal and external dialogue, which simultaneously reflects and analyzes movement in order to access more options for moving. D ancer s lacking a mind body consciousness make no decisi ons about what they do and hold what
22 Naharin calls "places of numbn ess." 27 Lacking full b ody consciousness, dancers sink into old habits because they have inadequate agency over their movement. A lack of internal and external dialogue limits creative progress. This lack of dialogue is reduc ive, creating the dancer as merel y a body defined by its movement. Gaga strives to break from this type of dancing. Recognizing one's patterns and habits promotes a conscious subjective experience, one that can be shared and communicated with others. In Gaga there are two types of forces, internal and external. Internal forces come from within the body, appear as actions of and by the body; external forces already exist in the world and act on the body. These types of forces create a tension between the private (internal forces) and the pu blic (external forces). In Gaga this tension appears in how a dancer negotiates between "what the body does" and "letting things happen" to the body. The body therefore is never acting on entirely internal forces or on entirely external forces. External f orces are useful when the body needs help in enacting a movement such as balancing, jumping, and turning. However, in these acts an internal force is initiatin g the movement. In the case of snapping ," suddenly changing direction very rapidly, external for ces can give explosive power while internal forces stop the motion o f the snap, but in the case of collapsing ," falling from one movement into another, internal forces extend the projection of movement into the next while external forces push down on the bod y Dancers 27 Ibid.
23 must recognize when to use more or less of each force as they affect the quality of movement. The final theoretical form is "availability," which Naharin sees as a combination of internal and external awareness. When dancers are internally aware they can expand their possibilities of movement in their body. However, without an external awareness of other dancers, forces, environment, or people, movement may not be shared. This is why Gaga asks dancers to be both internally and externally ava ilable; to expand their possibilities of movement and allow that movement to be publically manifested. Naharin views availability as a process of making the body public, a process of opening up the body in order to access all possi bilities of movement in i t During class N aharin will ask his dancers many times to make themselves available to move. Being available suggests reaching a state of full mind body consciousness while simultaneously making the private domain the public one. At times Naharin describ es becoming available as "opening" oneself: Think as if you swallowed a bottle of perfume. Open your body out so everyone can smell the perfume. Open your pores, let them smell you; your armpits, ears, stomach, ass, the backs of your knees. Open it up to t hem. 28 Naharin equates openness with making oneself and one's movement public. Available dancers can share and communicate, their movement and their subjectivity can be perceived by others because they exist publically in the world. 28 Out of Focus directed by Tomer Heymann (2007; Israel: Heymann Brothers Film, 2007), DVD.
24 Along with the theore tical forms there are also four complementary physiologic al concepts that ground the theoretical forms in the body. These physiological concepts, "tama," "home," "luna," and "lena," help dancers conceptualize movement in a tangible manner and discipline th e body in order to access the theory. Tama is three dimensional movement in one's joints as if in the shape of a ball. Although it is anatomically impossible to do this in certain joints such as the elbow, imagining the possibility of tama allows dancers t o reimagine their body and obtain new perspectives on possible movement. In so doing, dancers redefine their physical limits and extensions, find new ranges and mobility, and make movement they wouldn't have previously thought of Home refers to the natu ral placement of any body part. A body part such as the shoulder is at home when it is neither tense nor relaxed and sitting neutrallu in the skeletal frame The shoulder is made up of three bones: the scapula, the humerus, and the clavicle. Although all a rticulations of the shoulder make up the "shoulder joints," the most commonly known articulation is the glenohumeral joint, which is the ball and socket joint. When the glenohumeral joint is in a neutral position, meaning t he glenoid fossa of the scapula and the head of the humerus have neither flexion, abduction, adduction, exte nsion, nor rotation, the shoulder is "at home." Re alizing where home is located for the various parts of the body allows dancers to learn the limits of their physical body and try to expand them The Luna is a moon shaped area on the pads of the feet and the palms of the hands. Although this form is more conceptual than physiological, it is
25 grounded in the body. The Luna are the areas on the body that bear the most weight as they are located on one's feet and hands. At the same time, Naharin also refers to luna as the area that can access or release internal and external forces. Dancers can gather forces (or energy) from their environment or release forces into the surrounding space through their luna when trying to balance or to turn. In contrast to luna the lena is the source of all energy in the body. It refers to an area betwe en the navel and the groin that Naharin describes as a sun that radiates energy outwards into the body. Exercises such as quaking initiate this energy and extend it into the vari ous parts of the body. Naharin believes all movement originates in the lena as it is the center of one's body. All movement happens because of the lena and is merely an echo of its energy. In other more common modern dance education the lena is synonymous with the "center," the pelvis, the core, or the abdominals. Experience of a Gaga C lass Although Gaga classes are largely improvisational and loosely structured, they are not a free for all. A Gaga class begins with an instructor in the middle of a mirror less room, with some type of music playing according to the instructor's desire. The next hour and a half involves a series of verbal instructions describing exercises that explore the eight aforementioned forms. The only person who speaks is the instruct or, while the dancers respond to the verbal prompts through movement. An instructor may spend more time on certain
26 forms and omit other ones. There is usually a loose flow of beginning standing up, moving to the ground, and ending standing up again. Moveme nt is continuous; there are no breaks during class in order to build stamina and keep the mind and body stimulated. The verbal instructions are mostly metaphorical with the intention of promoting imaginative movement investigation. These instructions can employ many ideas at once: "Imagine that your bones are floating inside the flesh, allow soft stuff to travel in your thick body, connect to a sense of plenty of time." Using multiple ideas simultaneously pushes dancers to stay conscious of themselves, the ir environment, and their movement. It also teaches dancers to move multi dimensionally. However, some verbal instructions only pinpoint specific ideas initially as to not overwhelm dancers. For example, "draw circles with your body parts." Some exercises illustrate forms by involving others. For example, pushing and pulling a partner's body weight makes tangible the form of internal and external forces. Later a dancer can revisit the resonant sensations felt by another body pushing their own to conceptuali ze what an external force feels like. As previously mentioned, the foundation of a Gaga class is improvisation. Although there is no right or wrong way of exploring an exercise there are deeper ways of understanding and physically enacting them. The goal o f Gaga is to create multi dimensional movement, infused with a mind body consciousness. Such energy and awareness allows a dancer to multi task, employing many forms at once. Naharin claims in a Gaga class,
27 We are letting our mind observe and analyze many things at once, we are aware of the connection between effort and pleasure, we connect to the "sense of plenty of time", especially when we move fast, we are aware of the distance between our body parts, we are aware of the friction between flesh and bone s, we sense the weight of our body parts, we are aware of where we hold unnecessary tension...We are listening, seeing, measuring, playing with the texture of our flesh, we might be silly, decorating our inside, we can laugh at ourselves. 29 Multi tasking t herefore is not merely moving more than one body part at a time. It involves listening and reflecting and working with many forms at once. Multi tasking involves expanding both mental faculties and the limitations of the physical body to do something new a nd with more intention. Naharin claims, "you are not merely doing movement for nothing, you are going somewhere, being cool, finding your groove, finding your pleasure." 30 Multi tasking and multi dimensional movement expresses and communicates the humanity of individual dancers. From this work emerges elements of each dancer, making their movement a site of subjectivity. It reflects "their strengths, their groove, their madness, their sexuality, their disabilities." 31 A Gaga class therefore celebrates an expl oration of difference. All the exploration and research is not in aspiration of performance; rather it is meant as a way for the dancer to learn about him or herself. 29 Ibid. 30 Ibid. 31 Ibid.
28 Chapter II Phenomenological I mplic ations of Gaga as an Epistemic E ndeavor For Dancer s The phenomenal body as conceptualized by Maurice Merleau Ponty in his seminal work, Phenomenology of Perception describes much of what Gaga aims to accomplish with its theoretical and physiological forms. This approach involves the integration of consc iousness and movement in order to invite dancers to reevaluate and then re conceptualize perceptions of their body. In so doing, movement becomes more than an object of perception, but also a site of subjectivity expressed and shared with others. In order to explain how Gaga develops a dancer's subjective consciousness, I discuss Merleau Ponty's understanding of the phenomenal body. 32 Merleau Ponty describes the lived body as one whose "perception of spatial objects is premised on kinesthetic experience, o n the mobility of particular parts of the body and on the potential for the body to move around the object to approach it from a different perspective." 33 This means the lived body is also a 32 My understanding of phenomenology and t he phenomenal concepts I apply in this thesis are in direct correlation to Maurice Merleau Ponty's phenomenological ideology in his 1966 work Phenomenology of Perception. 33 Anna Pakes, "Phenomenology and Dance: Husserlian Meditations," Dance Research Jo urnal 42, no. 2 (2011): 33 49, doi: 10.1017/S0149767711000040, 41.
29 moving body, one whose experience immediately encounters phenomena through the the bodily experience of them. In other words, the body itself has and is a consciousness. For dancers this means the dancing body is not merely a perceptual object moving in space for an aesthetic gain or entertainment endeavor, but a legiti mate approach to encountering the world, one which elucidates the essential structures and relationships preexisting in the dancing world. The dancing body therefore is a mode of perceptual inquiry. In suggesting this I aim not to argue that the Gaga dance r's body is a phenomenon to be encountered but that the dancer training in Ga ga is herself a phenomenologist thereby making Gaga an operational model for dancers to gain phenomenological knowledge about dance As a phenomenologist, the Gaga dancer describe s her immediate encounter of movement through her lived experience of movement. Gaga's role in this description is to give the dancer a method which legitimizes first hand experience in order to describe and analyze structures. Simply put, Gaga is to dance rs what phenomenology is to phenomenologists, an epistemic endeavor founded in immediate subjective reality. In this chapter I describe how Gaga and phenomenology are intersecting disciplines, ones whose work is fundamentally synonymous. Yet Gaga has a sp ecific intention; that is, the work Gaga does is directed towards the moving body in dance training By looking at three key concepts the body as a site of subjectivity, embodied conscio usness, and intersubjectivity I use a
30 phenomenological foundation to s how how Gaga aims to integrate the mind and body in order to make the dancing body an expression of selfhood that may be shared. Phenomenological Beginnings Phenomenology, a philosophical discipline created at the dawn of the twentieth century, studies th e structures of human experience and consciousness. As a methodology it works to discover the relationship between consciousness and the natural world. Phenomenological inquiry uses a first person perspective to analyze subjective experience in order to fi nd the essence of "phenomena," or rather, their essential meaning. These phenomena (objects of consciousness), can be physical or mental, but they are all a part of the world, intrinsically tied to it and occurring within it. Franz Brentano distinguished t he difference between psychic (mental) phenomena and physical phenomena: "The latter are the terms, objects, or events of sensory awareness which have as their specific differentia spatial localization." Brentano gave examples of physical phenomena such as color, figure, heat, and cold. Therefore, physical phenomena are tangible objects, ones which can be moved around and visibly seen. "Psychic phenomena, on the other hand, involve sensory or imaginative representation to consciousness," meaning they invol ve the phenomenal structure, intentionality. 34 I draw a comparison between phenomenology and Gaga in that Gaga is also a means of inquiry, but it is a method meant to uncover knowledge of self 34 Franz Brentano, Psychologie von empirischen Standpunkt Vol. I, trans. s.n. English (Leipzig: 1924), 125.
31 and body in lived experience. Like phenomenology, Gaga is not m eant to construct relationships; rather, it illuminates and provides a framework to analyze pre existing ones. Gaga also exercises a first person perspective, positioning the body as pre objectively descriptive, meaning preconceptions and prejudgments are suspended allowing dancers to focus on phenomena as they are directly apprehended. 35 The investigative experience of Gaga therefore is a lived, subjective one. Understanding is found in a dancer's immediate encounter of phenomena in movement. Because a Gaga dancer's descriptive study is not of dance, but of what occurs while dancing, she must, according to Maxine Sheets Johnstone, concern herself with "an appearance, a phenomenon, while, while moving, [she] remains a totality." 36 Phenomena and consciousness have a unique relationship characterized by the phenomenal structure: intentionality. Edmund Husserl developed his notion of intentionality from Franz Brentano's use of the term, describing it as "the direction of consciousness towards a thing, some kind o f object." 37 Intentionality is characteristic of all psychic phenomena such as thought, fear, fantasy, and remembrance. However, psychic phenomena themselves -thought, fear, fantasy, remembrance -do not exist. As Alfred Schtz explains, "Every thought is thought of, every fear is fear of, every remembrance is remembrance 35 Anna Pakes, "Phenomenology and Dance: Husserlian Meditations," 34. 36 Maxine Sheets Johnstone Phenomenology of Dance (Princeton Book Company Publishers, 1979), 13. 37 Brentano, Psychologie von empirischen Standpunkt Vol. I 125.
32 of the object that is thought, feared, remembered." 38 Every psychic phenomena, therefore, is representational and tied to the object of its intention. For instance, memory is a psychic phen omenon which has in itself intentionality. Consciousness is directed not to memory itself, but to the event or object that is tied to the memory. Physical phenomena on the other hand do not possess the property of intentionality. They are considered state s of affairs and are not representational as psychic phenomena are, meaning they are tangible objects. Consciousness is directed to the physical object, meaning they can be intended, but do not have the property intentionality. This is because physical phe nomena are not representational. For Gaga, intentionality describes the direction in which a dancer's moving bodily consciousness is projected. In doing so the dancer creates a subjective understanding of phenomena as experienced through movement. That co nsciousness may have a pathway, a direction, which when one extends it to phenomena, support Gaga as an investigative profile through which dancers gain knowledge. Phenomena are irreducible, meaning they rely on the interaction of a subjective consciousnes s towards them in order to exist. Therefore, intentionality in Gaga describes the extension of a bodily consciousness into phenomena. By training in Gaga, dancers can better recognize the intentionality of their consciousness. Dancers who practice forms su ch as 38 Alfred Schtz, "Some Leading Concepts of Phenomenology ," Social Research 12, no. 1 (1945): 77 9 7, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40982061 26.
33 availability, forces, pleasure and improvisation bring awareness to how their consciousness is extended, how phenomena are recognized. They then learn to understand as from their bodily consciousness while in motion. Cartesian Duality: A Separate Mi nd and B ody To understand why one must consider the mind and body as an integrated unit, it is necessary to contemplate when the body and mind were seen as separate. Cartesian philosophy, founded by Rene Descarte, presupposes the mind is the only thing th at can exist with certainty. In contrast, the existence of everything else, the natural world, the body, all things physical, can be doubted and one cannot be certain of them. This articulation occurred in 1641 with the publication of Meditations i n whi ch Descarte claims the body and mind are two separate and distinct substances. In Mediation II, Descartes argued, altho ugh he is connected to his body; in thinking of himself the only thing he can "know" is that he is a thinking thing. Any physical or ma terial object can in some respect be doubted, making their existence (possibly) the effect of an illusion, an evil demon, a magician, or a trick. 39 However strong Descartes felt in this assertion, Cartesian Dualism fails because it lends itself to solipsism ; in isolating the mind from the body and henceforth the world, all we can know is ourselves. On Cartesian philosophy, Sokowloski notes, "Consciousness is taken to be like a bubble or an enclosed 39 Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (Bobbs Merrill Company Inc, 1960), 13.
34 cabinet; the mind comes in a box. Impressions and concepts o ccur in this enclosed space, in this circle of ideas and experiences, and our awareness is directed toward them, not directly towards the things outside'." 40 Cartesian philosophy, therefore, cannot adequately speak to contemporary dance, specifically Gaga. Gaga strives for an integrated consciousness and body, which Cartesian philosophy denies exists. Cartesian Duality is problematic for Gaga because it prevents the body, as well as experience gained through the body, to be a legitimate medium of encounte ring the world and gaining knowledge. Not only does it impose an objective theoretical framework in order to gain understanding, it also reduces knowledge to a series of abstracted concepts founded in speculative thinking. 41 It discounts the first person pe rspective and therefore subjective experience. Phenomenology is a response to Cartesian, "egocentric," philosophy. Rather than keeping the mind in isolation from the body, phenomenology attempts to redirect consciousness to be a public manifestation. Phen omenological inquiry claims all phenomena are outside the mind located in the external world. Only in worldly experience objects may appear to us and by analyzing our experience of such objects, we may come to form an understanding of them. Sokolowski clai ms phenomenology solves "the modern epistemological problem" of the "notion of a solitary, self enclosed 40 Robert Sokolowski, Introduction to Phenomenology (New York: C ambridge University Press, 2000) 9. 41 Anna Pakes, "Phenomenology and Dance: Husserlian Meditations," 38.
35 consciousness, aware only of itself and its own sensations and thoughts." 42 The phenomenal consciousness therefore, is of the world, located within it, simultaneously extending into it. Merl eau Ponty: Integrated Subject /O bject Maurice Merleau Ponty's phenomenological discourse supports the integration of the mind and body that Gaga strives for. His approach distinguishes consciousness as intrinsically a bodily event which he identifies as the "lived body." 43 The lived body is a moving embodied consciousness that exists in the world. 44 The Gaga body is synonymous with Merleau Ponty's lived body, as it also considers the a dancer's body to be an embodied con sciousness, meaning one which has an integrated body and mind. Merleau Ponty explains to exist embodied is "to exist as neither pure subject or pure object, but to exist in a way that transcends both possibilities." 45 Gaga aims to create a human situation, one which acknowledges the dancer as one who lives a concrete human life. In order to make this possible, the body must be framed as existing in the public domain, free to be seen as a perceptual object. The Gaga dancer uses her body to dance, but at her m ost basic and fundamental level she is a human being. And as a human being, she lives a life 42 Robert Sokolowski, Introduction to Phenomenology 216. 43 Nigel Stewart, "Re Languaging the Body: Phenomenological Description and the Dance Im age ," Performance Research: On Place 3 no. 2 (1998) 40 43. 44 Maurice Merleau Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception 160. 45 Ibid.
36 while moving, has ideas and emotions, tastes and preferences. When thinking of the dancer's body as a consciousness, one must also remember the humanity of her bod y, and thus her subjectivity. In Gaga, a dancer trains to become self aware, and in doing so become an embodied consciousness. Pleasure is the primary theoretical form used in exercises that help dancers conceptualize movement as an expression of self. It seems simple in theory to say, "Taste something good in your mouth. What does it taste like?" But when executing movement that expresses emotions or abstract ideas, a dancer must know how to stay present in her movement. In other words, she must maintain a consciousness of self, of what she does with her body and how it is constantly relating to others. Merleau Ponty claims that not only is the body and consciousness tied together, but they are one and the same. Therefore, the body itself as a consciousness is located within the world as well as i s the subject that encounters the world Acknowledging the lived body as always embodied and therefore any action or intention as always to be embodied, Merleau Ponty is able to extend embodiment to propose that the body is also an object of the world. He argues, "To exist embodied is to exist in such a way that one exists under the gaze of the other, accessible to the other; my bodily behavior always has a public side to it." 46 Thus the lived body must also be the pe rceived body, a body that is simultaneously private and public. 46 Ibid., 161.
37 Embodied movement is found in Gaga by exploring verbal in structions that propose physio cognitive problems such as "separate your flesh from your bones." The dancer knows she cannot physically do this, but in the process of exploring, she learns to change the quality of her movement. Her movement can then become somet hing more than action, it can begin to indicate aspects of herself as she learns to shape its quality. Because Gaga classes invol ve continuous motion, the dance r must simultaneously access his or her cognitive faculties used to solve physical problems posed in the verbal instructions, all while continuing to move. Intersubjectivity: The Public Body Sheets Johnstone claims that d ance i s a formed and performed art; therefore it rests on necessity of the body to be a public object in the world in order for it to be seen. 47 Although practicing Gaga need not have performance on a stage as its end, the movement that Gaga inspires still falls under Sheets Johnstone's argument that dance relies on being seen. The movement is creative, and does not serve an individual utilitarian purpose thereby making it formed and performed. The dancer creating movement is an object of perception; she is seen by her peers in class, by the instructor, or on stage by an audience. Like Merleau Ponty argues, as an embodied consciousness, her body is an object existing in the public domain. 47 Maxine Sheets Johnstone Phenomenology of Dance 3.
38 The public quality of objects is not new to phenomenology. The discipli ne was founded on the proposition that the external world and the objects in it are accessible to all whom they appear to. Merleau Ponty however, takes a step forward from this claim, and extends the lived body to be included as a public object that may ap pear or be intended by others. Merleau Ponty's lived body suggests a corporeal nature defined by being both a subject encountering and an object encountered in the world. 48 For something to be considered an object, Merleau Ponty describes, "An object is an object only in so far as it can be moved away from me, and ultimately disapp ear from my field of vision. It s presence is such that it entails a possible absence." 49 Therefore, the lived body must also be the perceived body. In being so, the body has a publi c existence, meaning it is experienced in relation to the world. Intersubjectivity is the phenomenal notion that describes the ambiguous state of the body, a subject that perceives and an object perceived by others. However, intersubjectivity is only pos sible if the relationship between subjectivity, world and others is coexistent. As Dan Zahavi writes, The world we live in is a public and communal world, not a private one. Subjectivity and world are internally related, and since the structure of this wo rld contains essential references to others, subjectivity cannot be 48 "An object is an object only in so far as it can b e moved away from me, and ultimately disappear from my field of vision. It's presence is such that it entails a possible absence." The body is never fully constituted though, so it may never fully be an object. Maurice Merleau Ponty, Phenomenology of Perce ption 90. 49 Ibid.
39 understood except as inhabiting a world that it necessarily shares with others. 50 Therefore, the body, and thus one's subjectivity, is seen in relation to all things in the world, includi ng the world itself. M erleau Ponty argues the subject/ object body is intrinsically a part of subjective embodiment. However, this doesn't cause the body to be a not subject nor not object, in threat of falling into a state that nullifies it s existence. Ra ther the body's liminal condition allows it to be shared with others. Merleau Ponty explains, It doesn' t entail losing self awareness on the contrary, a self awareness intrins ically embodies self awareness it does entail a loss or, perhaps rather, a releas e from transparency and purity, thereby permitting intersubjectivity. 51 Subjective embodiment, and therefore intersubjectivity means two things for the body and the world. First, subjectivity can only be understood and described in relation to being intern ally related to the world, and secondly it occurs within a world that is public and shared between others. Gaga invites dancers to become aware of their body as an ambiguous one. Physiological forms such as tama, lena, luna, and home, show dancers that th ey can interrogate themselves as a body, investigate their corporeal nature from the inside as well as the outside. Understanding their body from this perspective demonstrates how the body does not only consists of its external movement. There is movement in the blood and in the organs. Gaga invites dancers to 50 Dan Zahavi, Subjectivity and Selfhood: Investigating the First Person Perspective 167 51 Maurice Merleau Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception 90.
40 investigate these different types of movement, developing a greater awareness of how their body works. Sometimes the dancer is observing internal movement, trying to get to understand herself better, but simultaneously there are others watching her. As mentioned above in Sheets Johnstone's work, dance is a performed art. Therefore there is always someone watching even if the person dancing is also the person watching. As t he Gaga dancer improvises she is at the same time looking out, out towards others in the room, out the window in the studios. Naharin asks everyone to keep his or her eyes open at all time s Although much of the investigation is internal, a personal endeavor, the investigation occurs s o that the dancer can become more available and more open. In knowing oneself, a dancer can better share herself in her movement. Naharin wants dancers to remember they are not alone, but are part of a larger narrative, one that encompasses them and all ot hers in the world. In having open eyes, the internal is recognized as a part of the external. Dancers remember they are moving and existing in a space with others -people, objects, smells and tastes. The ambiguous phenomenal body and the ambiguous Gaga b ody are synonymous. Both perceive and both can be perceived. It seems almost too obvious to argue that one sees and is seen, but subjective embodiment provides more than merely perception. This notion supports the view of the body as having the ability to hold references, to be a place of knowledge and information that can be accessed. Intersubjectivity, intrinsically a part of subjective embodiment, describes the accessibility of bodies. Movement therefore is more
41 than action along spatial networks. It is transformed into a feeling, an idea, a question, an aspect of a dancer's humanity. In contrast to Cartesian solipsism, intersubjectivity describes how people and thus dancers -are fundamentally social beings who can communicate. Gaga shows dancers how t heir bodies can be places of communication by giving dancers tools to integrate their body and mind As Wolff Michael Roth and Daniel V. Lawless describes this phenomenon "Communication and shared understanding is not merely a matter of share words and pr opositions. Rather, it is a matter of structures of shared bodily experience in and of the world." 52 In many reviews of Batsheva adjectives such as explosive, groovy, delicate, exact, and generous are used to describe the dancers. 53 These adjectives indicat e how the dancers and their movement are understood -as individual human beings rather than objective bodies. In becoming subjectively embodied, Gaga dancers create movement containing essential references to their selfhood that others may view and access. 52 Wolff Michael Roth and Daniel V. Lawless, "How Does the Body Get into the Mind ?, Human Studies 25 no. 3 (2002): 333 358, http://www.jstor.org/stable/20010285 338. 53 Catherine, Bell, "Ohad Naharin: Part 1 and 2," Dance Consortium: International Dance Across the UK September 3, 2012, http://www.danceconsortium.com/features/interview/ohad naharin part 1/.
42 Chapter III Integration and Gaga Batsheva Summer Intensive in Tel Aviv I first heard of Batsheva Dance Company while studying at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, during fall 2011. A friend of mine, Jonathon, introduced me to the company via a grainy video on YouTube, telling me I wo uld like them because I dance "juicy," just like them Soon after Jonathon told me the company was offering a dance intensive in Isr ael that summer and I was going. I thought, "well that's new s to me," but I sent in an application to attend anyway. I had no prior understanding of Gaga what it was, what purpose Gaga served or its position in the contemporary dance world. I merely thought the choreography was beautiful and physically perplexing and I'd train in their method if it would teach me to move in a similar way The summer intensive in Tel Aviv lasted two weeks, during wh ich I participated in three two hour classes every day: Gaga Movement, Gaga Methods and Repertoire. These classes we re taught either by member s of the Batsheva company, the E nsemble, or Ohad Naharin. Gaga Movement classes were concentrated on practice only, meaning we (the participants) couldn't ask questions; rather we used this time to become familiar with the vocabul ary of the instructions and to explore how to incorporate the exercises into our bodies. In contrast, in the Gaga Methods classes we were invited to inquire about specific
43 exercises and terminology while simultaneously exploring the Gaga forms. We were pus hed to analyze the theoretical and physiological forms from a critical perspective. Instructors indulged us with extra time to fully explain each Gaga form physically and conceptually. The Repertoire classes involved learning excerpts of the choreography O had Naharin created for the Batsheva Dance Company and the Ensemble. Through this process I felt transformed intellectually and physically. Gaga awakened a desire while giving me a foundation, in which I could explore the relationship between movement and myself. Its tools provided ways to enhance my identity as a dancer and re imagine my body as a venue of self expression. Gaga and Choreography My main interest in Gaga lies in its ability to be an inspiration for individual artistic expression and corpore al healing. As a dancer myself, my previous training in ballet concentrated on shaping and disciplining the body with movement exercises to achieve a level of skill. To do this I had to submit my body to a preconceived balletic structure. The codified voca bulary was hard on my body, concentrating on virtuosity and technical achievement. It caused problems in my back, feet, and hips due to the physical stress and strict regimentation. Gaga, in contrast, offers a system of moving that is not destructive on t he body. Rather it preserves the body by building strength and flexibility simultaneously, and cultivates efficient ways of moving to prevent injuries.
44 There is a certain type of care promoted in Gaga because its ambition is not to create images, fit into structures, or be a method of performance. Its function is only to invite dancers to imagine new possibilities of movement and provide investigative profiles. Achievement in Gaga therefore, is subjective and motivated from the inside of the dancer. The instructor is merely there to externally provide a push towards recognizing there are possibilities of movement and consciousness existing that the dancer has yet accessed. By working closely with the Gaga forms in Tel Aviv, I became more self aware, asser ted my ability to make choices and have preferences, and expanded my movement vocabulary. I was pushed to be intentional when moving and to have accountability when expressing my subjectivity Gaga does many important things for dancers in the contempora ry dance world. First, it promotes integration. Integration suggests a blending, a uniting of separate parts into a whole that can function on its own. In business terms, integration involves efficiency, using less energy as a whole than if there were many separate parts. Integration is about having and sustaining balance. True integration suggests that which has become integrated is always connected. I use the term integration because Gaga lends itself to be all of these things theoretica lly, in the binding of consciousness and movement and physically, in forms such as "t raveling movement" and "echoing Because Gaga is a movement system, it can be applied alongside other dance techniques or used on its own. However, what comes out of Gaga permeates all facets of a
45 dancer's work even when she is not in class. Therefore, although Gaga is not a choreographic structure or a school of movement orientation, it does extend itself into the realm of choreography. It invites the dancer to reevaluat e herself as both a subject and object, meaning she is not only the art object (that which expresses), but also an artist ( she who creates). Because Gaga proposes a de centered approach to dance, the relationship between choreographer and performer thus be comes always intrinsically collaborative. To understand this collaboration I propose an adaptation of Mark Morris's following metaphor: "choreography is like putting on clothing." A choreographer creates a structural object, like a pair of pants, and gi ves them to the dancer. The dancer puts on these pants, but when they are filled, although they are still the choreographer's pants, they no longer look the same as when they were initially given. The pants have bec ome integrated with the dancer they take on the shape and movement of the dancer's body. These pants, or rather choreography, contain references to the original creator (the choreographer), but they have been processed physically and mentally making the dancer both the artist and art object
46 The Relationship Between Dancer and Choreographer as an E ffect of Gaga Taking this concept out of its metaphorical context, I apply it to an excerpt of Deca Dance by Ohad Naharin. Deca Dance is an evening length work composed of excerpts from origi nal choreography by Ohad Naharin. The content references previous pieces and is subject to change depending on the performance. It was originally premiered at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv, Israel in 2000 and has been performed since international ly. Deca Dance has an unstable structure because Naharin chooses to include or exclude certain content depending on when and where it is performed. In so doing, he continual ly makes the past present. Naha r i n believes movement, and thus choreography, is no t something that goes away or is ever finished. Each time choreography is performed something new happens because new people are dan cing. By reframing past reperto i r e in contemporary performances, an audience is given a chance to experience different persp ectives of the same choreography on different people in different situations. In Deca Dance fifteen to twenty dancers perform, accompanied by a wide variety of music ranging from Vivaldi to Missy Elliot. "Queens Solo" of Ohad Naharin's Deca Dance is a shor t solo (ninety seconds) This segment within the larger work has been performed many times by both a male and a female dancer however I analyze the solo as performed by Rachel Osbo rne in San Quentin circa 2003. 54 I argue training in Gaga changes the relat ionship between dancer and choreographer from 54 Rachel Osborne, "Rach Solo Queens," Deca Dance YouTube, 1:27, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNbypFAeaSY [accessed September, 2012].
47 dictational to collaborative. I use Osborne as an example of a dancer trained in Gaga to show how Gaga has made her more salient in her choregraphic interpretation of Naharin's movement, making her a co artist of "Queen's Solo." "Queen's Solo" begins in darkness and as light is introduced, the audience's eyes come to rest on a figure in purple off to the side. Osborne 's costume is a lavender leotard covering only her torso and leaving her long limbs free to ta ke up space. Osborne descends slowly from a high relev as if something is simultaneously lifting her up and pushing her down. With a spine like seaweed, she comes to face the audience in a wide lunge. She is affected by some force, one which she tries to find by tracing its linear pathway in the air. It is certain she finds it as the force comes into her body, echoing simultaneously from her shins to her lena and up through her spine. There is a change in her internal sense of time, a break in her calmnes s. The next series of movements contain a desperation for release. Osborne is thrown backwards and forwards, her arms languidly hang in her shoulder sockets out of home, as if dislocated. The force acts on her and she succumbs to it, yet she is in control and her desperation doesn't overwhelm her. The choreography of "Queens Solo" is not complicated or virtuosic. It takes great effort and strength, but the movement is f airly simple However, it is how Osborne communicates ideas through her movement, how s he uses the different qualities, dynamics, and forces that resonates for those watching. Because Osborne trains in Gaga daily, she has explored and integrated the Gaga forms into her dancing. Gaga is not a movement vocabulary, but its effect is seen
48 in the quality and choices one makes while dancing. Osborne 's dancing invites the audience to see more than motion by revealing her S elf her places of strength and weakness, what makes her feel vulnerable, what makes her groove. 55 The focal point of the perform ance therefore is not the movement or choreography alone, but Osborne 's interpretation of it. Because Gaga training teaches her to be an autonomous agent when dancing and to use movement as an expression of subjectivity, she is both an artist and an art ob ject. With her body she communicates what she chooses to say, albeit all within the framework of the choreography given to her. In an interview Naharin describes how Gaga brings out the humanity of a dancer: It's about a range and about listening to somet hing that is beyond the athletic side of the dancer. It is also that, but something about the soul; about the connection between your demons, fantasy, passion, and actually longevity, that you actually learn to do more with less. That you grow old and you can still produce magnificent moments. 56 It is clear Naharin is interested in making difference salient in dancers. He wants to see interesting things occur on bodies, which he believes comes from learning how to project one's selfhood in movement. This is why Gaga training challenges the relationship between dancers and choreographers. Gaga cultivates manifesting one's subjective expression in movement, therefore the dancer is an 55 Naharin describes "groove" as a dancer's internal dialogue with their passion to move. Groove comes from the individual and can be compared to one's soul. 56 Catherine, Bell, "Ohad Naharin: Part 1 and 2 ," Dance Consortium: Internation al Dance Across the UK September 3, 2012, http://www.danceconsortium.com/features/interview/ohad naharin part 1/.
49 autonomous agent, and must be acknowledged as having a bigger part in the cre ative process of choreographing. Ultimately, the dancer's role, which is an interpretive one, is in collaboration with a choreographer at all times. Exploring My Own Subjectivity Through Movement Gaga highlights differences by asking a dancer to explo re her self and movement through individual interpretation. In doing so, the dancer gains a better understanding of her S elf, and on how to project that understanding outwards. As part of this thesis process I created a performance incorporating the physi ological and theoretical Gaga forms to explore how I express my subjectivity through movement. I modeled my performance after a Gaga class, meaning it was improvisational, in order to navigate how to maintain a mind body consciousness while in a performati ve environment. By doing this, I investigated the tension between problem solving and performing simultaneously. Simply put, I was stitching my own clothing and trying to wear them at the same time. Embodied subjectivity is what I believe separates profes sional dancers from dancers, as well as what causes audience members to want to come to dance performances. There is more to dancing than virtu osic movement, and although it in itself is beautiful, I can't count the number of times I've gone to see a dance performance and only thought, "Wo w, what incredible bodies." Beautifully made bodies and athleticism is a part of dancing, but it isn't where
50 dancing ends nor begings If dancing is an art, albeit one deeply rooted in its body work, and art involves two p arts: artist and art object, where is the artist? Who and what is being expressed? There must be both the object through which expression is accessed as well as the subject who expresses. In doing so, the audience gets to see a human situation enacted by t he body, which is more interesting and provocative than seeing virtuosic movement alone. My choreographic process therefore came out of a desire to express some internal aspect of myself, something that I thought separated me from others, certain differen ces that I could make salient. I began with three co ntemplations concerning myself what makes me feel safe, what makes me cry, what feels good. These questions evoked certain memories and actions that I associated with specific gestures. The gestures evolv ed into full movement ideas sentences and paragraphs. The movement that came to form doesn't necessarily tell the memory itself; mor e so, it may give an impression. It show s how I choose to portray aspects of the memory the smell, the sound, the taste of i t. Explication of Movement Contemplations The following includes an explanation of each action to give a contextual basis in which to view the movement contemplation. The work began as three solo pieces which turned into a composite work. The first conte mplation, "Bathtub grl," investigates how my sense of security is manifested in bathtubs. When I was a kid I used to wake up at night in the midst of an asthma attack. My mother would hear my wheezing and take
51 me into the bathroom, turn the water on to the ho ttest temperature possible and push my face very close to the water with a towel covering my head and the spigot. This created a small sauna of steam surrounding my head which I could then breathed into my lungs in order to alleviate the inflamed airwa ys. The sec ond, "Cry Bby," came out of a need to understand what sort of things make me cry. I have a roommate who sees dogs and immediately starts tearing up. I do not share this kind of reaction, but I know that I, like most people, cry. I made a list. I found most of the times I cry as a response to a stimulus of pain or anxiety. In recent years crying for me has been a response to anxiety. Thinking about how anxiety manifests itself phy sically evolved into thoughts of stomach ulcers and yeast infectio ns, which in turn induced a contemplation of how it is possible to become estranged from a body that is and always will be yours. Crying, like anxiety, for me is an externalized idea that becomes internally manifested, thus changing my corpo real understand ing. It is debil itating and immobilizing. The final contemplation, "F33L," also began as a list. This list included things such as peeling fruit, rubbing the bottom of my feet on the concrete, laying on my couch after I clean the house, popping my hips jo ints, and peeling oranges. This list was more action based than the others, which I found to be an important difference from the other two. The contemplation inspired many of the gestures I ultimately used in the final work. They became the foundation, a s ort of grounding that I could refer back to in order to maintain clarity.
52 What resulted from these contemplations was a series of abstracted respresentational movements that I then applied the Gaga forms to. I used the Gaga forms to explore how the movemen t contemplations were related to each other, setting up problems How can I use traveling movement to get from "F33L" to "Bathtub Grl" or if I apply forces to "Cry Bby," how does this change its movement profile. The final composite contemplation therefore, was an improvisational combination of all the contemplations, an exploration of the relationships between their movement and how the movement expressed aspects of myself. It was performed informally in the New College Black Box on April 14, 2013 for a sma ll audience. The performance was thirteen minutes long and afterwards there was a short question and answer period where I explained my choreographic process and the three contemplations. A large portion of the discussion involved the difference between a "dancer," one who dances creatively and has a technical background, and a "mover," one who moves as a result of functionality. The audience also questioned the movement quality and my intentions with the decisions I made while dancing. The performance wa s also filmed for later viewing. For those who see it later on video: this experimental (and experiential) performance attempts to use varying textures, dynamics and qualities to communicate aspects of myself to others. I invite the viewer to look for poss ible meanings, hints at narratives, implicit gestures. I ask them to ask themselves if they see anything, feel anything. Do they recognize me or do the y merely see a torso and limbs?
53 Conclusion Gaga is a contemporary movement system that invites dancers to gain new knowledge and self awarness through the investigation of their bodies. It simultaneously stengthens and heals, while providing a framework for exploring new possibilities of movement. Gaga uses theoretical and physiological forms, given to dan cers as verbal instructions in order to integrate consciousness with the body. In doing so, Gaga training challenges dancers to reevaluate their own bodies and movement as places of inquiry and expression. In this thesis I argue there is an undeniable con nection between Gaga and phenomenology, as both epistemic endeavors claim the body is the locus of consciousness and experience. Phenomenology posits one's immediate lived experience of phenomena, as encounterd by their embodied subjectivity, and elucidate s the essential structures and relationships in the world. Therefor e the body serves as a medium through which knowledge is gained. Embodied subjectivity sugg ests the body exists publically; it is both an object able to be perceived as well as a subject w ho perceives. Intrinsically a part of this bodily nature, intersubjectivity describes the social implications of such a position. Because the world itself is shared, it is common to all things within it. Intersubjectivity lends itself to bridge the gap bet ween the private and the public describing why communication and empathy is possible.
54 I argue Gaga is an operational model for dancers to gain phenomenological knowledge. It too posits an integrated body consciousness through which knowledge is gained. Ga ga invites dancers to use first hand experience in order to make sense of relationships and describe movement oriented structures such as force and time. Dancers encounter phenomena while moving, become aware of their embodied subjectivity, and learn to co mmunicate themselves with others. Gaga therefore has re imagined the role of the dancer in contemporary dance from one that merely executes movement to one that is knowledgable of herself and how she creates movement. The dancer has gained her pe rsonal autonomy and freedom of artistic expression, having been asked to think critically and creatively. This movement system has also for ced the dancer to ask herself why am I dancing, what is the point? Simultaneously, Gaga has posed a similar questi on to audiences why go to a dance performance, what are you looking for? I believe the answers to both of these questions involve the same idea: difference. As a dancer I want to be seen and I want to show others who I am as an individual. I use movement as an artistic expression of my subjectivity and I perform in order to share with others my ideas, my demons, my passions, my humanity. I believe people go to dance performances to see just those thi ngs. They want to see what they a re not. Gaga dancers b ridge the gap between the private and public in a performative context. In recognizing their own humanity through movement
55 research, they become avai la ble to make it salient for those who they perform for. In doing so, these dancers bring attention to our own humanity, to our own public position as human beings in the world. We are reminded that we don't exist in is olation, that we all are undoubtedly different, yet we experience and are experienced in reference to one another.
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