Embodying unpredictability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article examines the senses of messiness and unpredictability which I have found within the Cunningham dance technique. It will do this by explicating my lived experience of learning and teaching aspects of a Cunningham-based approach to dance practice. A central question of my research is how a sense of messiness contributes to enable ‘kinaesthetic unpredictability’ in the lived experience of performing Cunningham’s precise and predetermined dance phrases. To define my ‘sense of messiness’ I will use choreological methods and improvisational frames to argue that a somatic sensation of messiness arises in various ways in the body/mind, produced in the act of dancing multiple and fragmented relationalities. The article will question the value of exploring a lived experience of Cunningham’s fixed forms and examine how messiness and unpredictability can free up dancers to find individual innovations. The discussion draws on voices of Cunningham dancers and teachers. I will share my own pedagogic approach to expanding a lived experience, encouraging different ways of knowing and experimentation with potential relationalities. The article aims to extend debates about dance training today including the use of codified forms and somatic approaches, principles of legacy techniques, and synthesising and innovating ways of knowing.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberTDPT 1704853
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalTheatre, Dance and Performance Training
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • unpredictability
  • messiness
  • dance training
  • Cunningham technique

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