Braeuninger, R. (2009) From text to the figural. In: Phelan, S. A. (ed.) Dance Research Forum Ireland 2nd International Conference Proceedings: Mediating Movement: Communication and Dance. Limerick, Ireland: Dance Research Forum Ireland. pp. 76-82.
This paper tries to examine how the methodologies in dance scholarship changed during the second half of the 20th Century. What motivated the change from the ‘textual turn’ to the ‘performative turn’ and what has been the influence of such an approach on dance scholarship? This outline will be used to introduce Lyotard’s idea of the figural and Massumi’s concept of the virtual as possible methodological approaches which would allow acknowledging the oral and somatic practices through which dance is transmitted and evaluated. In his Discourse Figure (1971) Lyotard examines in how far the figural or the Gestalt escapes language and means to be analyzed like language. In his analytical approach, he replaces the sign in which the signified and the signifier come together through the figural. Massumi’s work which is based of Deleuze and Guattari, would allow to include dance’s virtual existence outside and inside performance. The latter reflects on dance’s existence in the feedback loops between the muscles and the brain which constitutes the muscle memory and it also acknowledges the perception of choreography in its sensuality within the multimedia event of a dance performance.