Critical Annotation of Foster

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Susan Leigh Foster, Choreographing Empathy: Kinesthesia in Performance (London: Routledge, 2011), 2. 

I really appreciated Foster’s historical review of the term choreography and the corresponding role of the choreographer: from documentation/documenter to something more like what we associate a choreographer with today. In the museum field, the terms curation/curator have a similar ubiquity by the general public, which challenges us to consider the specificity and detail of activity of the curatorial process: what is being curated? what is involved in curation? what is the role of curator? While not considered an embodied practice like choreography, there is some element to the conversation around curation that acknowledges the explicitly constructed/mediated experience through which we select, organize, present, interpret, etc. And so I wonder further what genealogical analysis might need to be done in order to “curate empathy,” and what word might replace kinesthesia in that process. Furthermore, how does participatory culture or new media platforms further the work of curating empathy in a way that make us consider that makes that term so commonly used?

Building off Foster’s central question on page 1 (“in what ways do these responses form part of or otherwise influence how we experience dancing and how we derive significance from it?”), I’m curious to know what we might say regarding these changing definitions of choreography that allow us to think about structuring movement. If choreography refers to structuring of movement – both as action and process – what are the different emotional contexts that can arise from it? And what does choreography/choreographing do to our reactions?

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