Performing Ideas ... Expertly

Henry I Daniel


This essay examines how the long-term agenda of dance to embed itself within the University system has also implicated it in what Bill Readings called the “transnational bureaucratic corporation.” (Readings 1996:3). In his publication The University in Ruins, Readings argues that the two main roles of the University, as a research and teaching institution, have been undermined by a third, administration, where the constant push to ‘excel’ and ‘innovate’ forces us all continually to manufacture new knowledge to remain economically viable and administratively sound within the general marketplace of ideas. I argue that this trend has a dark underbelly that poses problems for the Arts in general and for the discipline of Dance in particular. “Performing ideas... expertly” is an attempt to clarify some of the issues through two challenging questions that author Susan Melrose once posed: “How might we identify the expert knowledge-practices, their operations and boundary-markers, within work which we also require to be challenging, innovative, and to offer new insights? And what might be its most productive relationship with writing?” (Melrose 2002: 4). These, I argue, are key challenges that Dance has in its attempts to gain respect, to develop its individual status within the University, as well as to differentiate itself from other disciplines such as Theatre, Drama, or Performance Studies.

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