Thinking Dance in Relation to Deleuze’s Nietzsche

Philipa Rothfield

conference: DARE 2017: aberrant nuptials
date: November 20, 2017
venue: Orpheus Institute, Auditorium
format: in words
practice: performance
keywords: dance, Friedrich Nietzsche

abstract about the author(s)


Deleuze’s treatment of Nietzsche draws upon and elaborates a number of Nietzschean concepts that construe the activity of dancing as the work of bodies and forces. Deleuze’s reading of the body as a relation between active and reactive force makes possible a typological evaluation of the action of dancing, one that distinguishes between dancing (as a form of activity) and the dancer (as a reactive formation). Although Deleuze is pretty dismissive of the subject (dancer) as a metaphysical ground (as agent), this work paves the way for a strategic approach to subjectivity. From a practice-based point of  view,    this approach can be discerned within postmodern dance insofar as it calls forth a form  of movement beyond the self. Yvonne Rainer speaks of “recusing” the self, others of “voiding” the self, or creating a certain kind of absence within subjectivity. In the context of this paper, this might be seen as a form of “active destruction” on the part of the subject, a key element of the Nietzschean shift towards overcoming. Although dancers inevitably remain on the plane of the subject, there is a sense in which postmodern dance, and perhaps other practices further afield, tip the scales towards a more active interpretation of, and engagement with, force.

about the author(s)

Philipa Rothfield

Philipa Rothfield is an honorary Senior Lecturer in philosophy at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. She writes on philosophy of the body largely in relation to dance. She is interested in the work of Merleau-Ponty, Nietzsche, Klossowski, and Deleuze, to see what each of these philosophers can bring to dance and also to see what dance brings to philosophy.

info & contact


La Trobe University, Melbourne, AU


P.Rothfield [AT]