Temporality of the Dancing Body: Tears, Fears and Ageing Dears

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines and highlights the importance of valuing the body as it gravitates towards maturity (or ‘otherness’) refuting the myth that people do not or should not dance as they get older. It offers, as context, some of the common cultural myths of the ageing and injured dancer, and examines the career reality. It interrogates the shift from performance into dance creation of the ageing performer, and the prejudices that surround this process. Whilst ballet, as a dance form, will always remain subject to the authoritarianism of perfect technique, this chapter suggests that issues in dance and the ageing body, physical scarring, psycho physical scarring and embodied knowledge are being addressed in the wider dance community, which appears at last to be moving on considerably in its appreciation of the mature mover and embodied arts practice. The chapter uses as case studies, two practice-as-research projects which examined the cumulative impact of ageing values and practices as experienced across the trajectories of individual life-courses of performers, paying particular attention to dimensions of lived experience, physical and emotional pain and migrating selves. These projects also explored the subversion of notions which discriminate against the ageing dancing body, and highlighted and celebrated work which evolves with the ageing performer through somatic practice, valuing the lived process and the body as a phenomenological breathing Curriculum Vitae. The subjective nature of this chapter arises out of reflexive research which is less scientific and more concerned with observations of a practice which exposes and explores, rather than sanitises, issues like emotion, pain, biography, embodiment and sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPain
Subtitle of host publicationManagement, Expression, Interpretation
EditorsAndrzej Danczak, Nicola Lazenby
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)978-1-84888-080-1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • ageing
  • Dance
  • embodiment
  • experience
  • injury
  • pain
  • practice-as-research
  • retirement
  • technique


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