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Fixed Explosive: Catherine Sullivan’s Choreography of Stasis

Catherine Wood locates in Catherine Sullivan’s fascination with the gesture a collision between moving image technology and the contemporary social subject. Whether the ‘ordinary dance’ of Yvonne Rainer, the ballet-derived language of Michael Clark or the mass, participatory actions of artists Francis Alÿs or Katerina Sedá, each time I have written about choreography, I have considered it in fairly specific terms: as a form with the capacity to conjure utopian visions of social life, and as one that might, in aesthetic ways, reinvent relations of communality. Drawing inspiration, in part, from Andrew Hewitt’s observation of dance’s combined status as depiction and performative generator of relationships in his book Social Choreography: Ideology as Dance and Performance in Everyday Movement (2005), I have thought about choreography’s evolution from medieval folk to the Renaissance, and traced the origins of ‘ordinary dance’ in the 1960s back to ballet’s role as an extension of courtly etiquette. All of these readings of dance treat it as a deliberate, learned manner of movement, whether practiced or directed, with a sociopolitical dimension.