Research : Devising Commons in Collaborative Process in Dance: an Activist Practice related to Independent and Radical Dance, generator of Disorientation and Singular Solidarities


This research introduces the concept of Commons as a way to rethink Dance Practice as a critical power, generator of radically democratic singularities in neoliberal society. The sensation of Disorientation is approached in the research as an opportunity to identify the challenges that Devising Dance can meet in between the individual and the group in decision making.

The concept of Commons and the notion of Disorientation are explored in the case study of my practice with the choreographers Eve Stainton and Florence Peake along the collaborative creative process of the piece: Impending: Head to head, head to bum, crotch to crotch, presented in 2019 at The Place. This experience rooted in radical dance developed a space- political I argue that go beyond the stage, in everyday life, revaluing empathy and collective care in our way of relating with each other.

MA dissertation 2020 – London Contemporary Dance School (LCDS- The Place)
By Lucie Palazot
Supervisor : Tom Hastings

When I explored the concept of community and commons I made a wonderful discovery based on the french philosopher Jean Luc Nancy research, and I wanted to share an extract here !

For Nancy the notion of interdependence is the key safeguard of Commons against a process of enclosure in the development of community. In his work The Inoperative Community published in 1991, Nancy gives an awareness about the danger of community that can easily move away from the idea about Commons. The sense of fusion, communal coherence, identity, based on nostalgia can drive the community to isolation, rejecting cultural diversity (Nancy, 1991, p.12).

As an example, we can observe today the dramatic strengthening of populist and extremist parties in Europe, whose strategies are based on protectionism, nostalgia of a unified, fantasized identity, promoting discourses of distrust and fear of the otherness to reject foreigners. This form of community is no longer developing Commons as it encloses knowledge, codes, practices. It drives to uniformization, sameness. Nancy asserts that the desire to recreate a community from individuals is dangerous, the community has to found by itself.

For the development of a community, Nancy proposes that the inclination has to be found between people defined by their singularities and not individualities. He differentiates the singularity from the individuality. The individual is ‘perfectly detached, distinct, and closed: being without relation’ (1991, p.6).

Nancy defines the singular as ‘primarily each one, and, therefore, also with and among all the others. The singular is plural’ (2000, p.32). To have a better understanding of the difference between singular and individual in a community I created these two diagrams: A represents a community composed of individualities gathered in a space closed, and B a community that has been devised by singularities, their interactions develop a space in motion.

There is no interconnection in A while in B, the possibility of relationships is plural. The space is in motion as it can be expanded by the development of new interactions. ‘The singular is plural’(Nancy, 2000, p.32): the singular can’t detach from the collective. If we remove an individual in A the space will remain the same as opposed to B if we remove a singularity, the space will evolve redefining another community. Relationships are placed at the core of the community, that is a key point to develop Commons.

What if collaborative creative process in dance would be one of the best laboratory to explore the development of Commons ? 😉 If you are interested in this topic, you can contact me, I would be happy to continue the conversation with you !

Impending: Head to head, head to bum, crotch to crotch

Your current concerns
Your pleasures
The boldness that holds you amorphous
Something glides down your leg
It distracts you
Your shape mass blurs, fogging into the soft edged shape mass next to you You’ve become the room
Glacial, moody, a construct
You’ll hang out here for a while
Things will unsettle
Spilling dragging cat dogging
How to sustain
How to be with

Drawing on previous material from duet works Slug Horizons and Apparition Apparition Stainton and Peake bring the principles of these works to collaborate with dance artists Hannah Adams, Greta Gauhe, Alejandra Gissler, Alka Nauman, Lucie Palazot, Marta Stepien. Images of Glacial Carving and land masses shifting, we think about being with difficult times, being with each other, different relational modes inside trouble, slippage between form/sculpture and human within this time of ecological and political unrest. The auditorium becomes a space to offer intimacy, care and friction.

Author: Eve Stainton

Piece presented at The Place – July 2019
Choreographers Eve Stainton, Florence Peake in collaboration with the dance artists Hannah Adams, Greta Gauhe, Alejandra Gissler, Alka Nauman and Marta Stepien, Lucie Palazot.

Photos by Rocio Chacon