This presentation looks at what happens when dance enters the archaeological museum and asks whether its presence – and the presence of the body of the live female dancer - in this traditionally patrilineal space, might subvert received notions of how we view and understand ancient history and culture. The presentation will examine from an artist-researcher perspective the durational dance work, Likely Terpsichore? (Fragments), created for, and performed at, the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology (UK) in April 2018.
This durational dance work emerged as a key part of a wider practice-as-research project probing shifting experiences of temporality when choreography ‘performs’ as museum exhibit. The project asked how we might consider the live dancing body in the archaeological museum as a counter-archive or, to use performance theorist Rebecca Schneider’s reworking of philosopher Michel Foucault’s term, as a site of ‘counter-memory’ (Schneider 2011: 105). How might dance’s presence in the museum allow an alternative visibility, a hyper-visibility, for those ancient female bodies previously rendered invisible - or, only partially visible - by history? Furthermore, how might the presence of the live female dancer in the museum allow certain buried female histories to surface and be ‘re-collected’, becoming - through performance - part of the museum’s collection (at least, temporarily)?