“With dancing, you don’t end at a particular part of the room; the whole point of the dancing, is the dance. But we missed the whole point all along, it was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing or to dance whilst the music was being played”– Alan Watts
Philosophy of the body: the experience of music and dance
We are sound beings, highly sensitive to the sound around us; listening to our surroundings is a practice that we begin to learn in our mothers’ wombs. From the very beginning of our lives, listening means learning to move with the vibrations in which we are immersed. Thus, by dancing and moving to music, the body mixes and unifies the senses. But how can it be that listening to music; dancing in a club or in your living room; or singing in the shower can bring such joy? How is it that simple physical acts such as listening or moving our limbs have the ability to lift the spirits?
The body’s ability to absorb and make sense of organized sound – which, depending on our taste, we may refer to as music – is highly complex and far more effective than for example a computer’s capacity to identify and process sound. However, how exactly the brain processes organized sound is still riddled with question marks to this very day. This is no wonder; whilst listening or dancing to music, an intangible understanding comes to pass – sometimes individually, sometimes collectively – which has very little to do with intellect, and much to do with a certain essence of existence; dancing seems to bridge the intellect with intuition. But then the following question arises: why does music make us feel the way we do? Beyond the mechanics of music’s impact on cognitive and sensory function, might there be some magic at work, too?
Why do we willingly subject ourselves to physical fatigue and occasional social awkwardness simply to move to music? Why do we love it so? Music and rhythm have always been at the core of many rituals in which humans give expression to their feelings of awe and wonder, achievement and joy, or sorrow and loss.
Dancing is a physical expression of memory, a somatic reflection through the experience of music. To collectively find expression in music is the beginning of a kinship, formed by a joint listening experience with the (temporary) community around you, and is often more than an expression of the body alone: music scenes are deeply connected to social norms and status? If dance, then, is an expression of our social norms and statuses, what do we say about ourselves when we dance? What does listening to music and dancing reveal about the philosophy of our bodies?
In this meetup:
In this meetup we will consider the diversity of musical experiences and the musicality of our own bodies, and examine community building strategies within dance scenes.
Aldo Houterman will talk about his new book: We are our Body, in which he will discuss his chapter on the bodily experience of music. He will create a theoretical framework guided by the work of Noble and Serres.
Eelco Couvreur will talk about the experience of collectivity in music: in musical communication, when you improvise with somebody, there are subtle adjustments you have to make in order to interact with them. Those social exchanges are at the core of dance communities around the world. So, how does dancing promote social connections and strengthen kinship?
More information about the program is coming soon!
Buy tickets here.
Aldo Houterman studied Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam. Aldo is a teacher and researcher on the subject of Philosophy of the Body and Brain. He has researched bodily experience within psychiatry and physiotherapy. He is currently writing a book on the philosophy of sports and exercise, and is a doctoral candidate at the Erasmus University. He also teaches Ethics and Philosophy at the department of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Amsterdam, as well as in the Physiotherapy department at the University of Applied Sciences in Utrecht. More information: http://www.aldohouterman.nl/
Eelco Couvreur is editor in chief and a critic for DJBroadcast, a Dutch online magazine specializing in club culture and electronic music that prefers the shadows to the limelight. He’s interested in the power of subcultures and the role of dance music’s communities within the larger society. For more than fifteen years he has been documenting both national and international underground music scenes. More information: https://www.djbroadcast.net/
Bogomir Doringer went after initial studies in Sociology in Belgrade, Serbia, on to receive his Bachelor’s degree from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. A few years later he graduated cum laude from the Master of Film program at the Netherlands Film Academy. Bogomir is doing Artistic Research Ph.D. at the University of Applied Arts Vienna with the ongoing research project “I Dance Alone” that observes clubbing from a birds-eye-view as a mirror of social and political changes. Investigating collective and individual dynamics of the dance floor.
Source text and website: https://bogomirdoringer.info/
Perdu Theater Amsterdam