Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Patricia Ticineto Clough

Subject Categories

American Studies | Art Practice | Arts and Humanities | Dance | Digital Humanities | Other Theatre and Performance Studies | Performance Studies | Philosophy | Theatre and Performance Studies


dance, dance theory, speculative theory, performance, performance theory, choreography, nonhuman, sensibilities, skin, other-than-human-agencies, worldly sensibility, shift in thought, abstraction, non-narrative, consciousness, contemporary performance, Trisha Brown, Merce Cunningham, Yvonne Rainer, Swedish performer, affect, postmodern dance, Irene Hultman, Irene Hultman Monti, abstract dance and performance.


I investigate how speculative philosophy informs critical thinking about dance and its performance, encompassing both the act of creating and the action of executing. Speculative thinking augments and draws out new experiences and realities in the artistic body. I will argue that speculative theories widen the understanding and implementation of dance and its performance through a combination of human and nonhuman forces. This broadened understanding encourages progress, transformation, and evolution within the field of dance. I discuss the human (that which is experienced through sensibilities, therefore tangible and understandable on a cognitive and practical level) and the nonhuman (forces beyond our direct control that lean on the virtual, which exists as part of our known or unknown reality but cannot yet be measured or proven). This argument concerns both art-makers and art appreciators. It also carries significant consequences for the future evolutionary development of dance and performance within the western contemporary dance field.

We must widen the function of dance and its performance by giving access to a mode of thinking that affects the body; in return, the body points to and makes accessible new possibilities. The effect and affect of these combined new realities, the known and the not yet known but felt realities, contribute culturally, socially, and politically. This is a direct and important result of meaning-making in performance. The intra-relational outcome is what forms the performance expression and thus pushes the boundaries of creative evolution forward.