Reasoning in relation
: a normative inquiry of dancing together

  • Ilya Vidrin

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This PhD thesis investigates the foundation for a generic philosophy of partnering in dance, providing a framework for evaluating the act of dancing together. Drawing primarily from the analytic philosophies of Catherine Elgin, Margaret Gilbert, H. Paul Grice, and Annette Baier, the thesis lays out the sufficient conditions for dancing together in the strong sense, which I argue is what constitutes ‘partnering’. From improvisation to complex and intricate choreography, dancing together seems to be predicated on certain conditions. Moreover, dancing together can be evaluated from a multiplicity of perspectives and makes the joint act of partnering (whether it is a dyad, trio, or more) subject to questions about values. But evaluating value is problematic. The thesis argues that when we understand the conditions that underpin an interaction, a much more complete picture of what it is people are doing in dancing together is achieved. The aim of this study from an epistemological perspective is thus threefold: to critically investigate 1) the conditions of dancing together in the strong sense, 2) the normative problems that arise given the underpinning conditions, and 3) the ethical dimensions of trust and moral agency in dancing together.

    Rather than focusing on how individuals dance together, this thesis interrogates what the necessary conditions are in order to dance together. The thesis unfolds the terrain of associated concepts in dancing together and sets the terms in which partnering can be framed. Through hypothetical scenarios, thought experiments, and a close reading of how partnering operates in a filmed recording of Jiri Kylian’s Petite Mort, the thesis lays out the sufficient conditions of establishing and maintaining a joint commitment to dance together. Abstracting the principles from specific dance environments is an intentional move to understand the relationship between aesthetic values and ethical concerns within partnered movement on a broader scale. In so doing, this thesis provides a unique, systematic examination of partnering, which contributes to scholarship that is applicable in both the practice and theorizing of dance.
    Date of AwardJul 2020
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorSarah Whatley (Supervisor), Sara Reed (Supervisor) & Scott Delahunta (Supervisor)

    Cite this