Danae Kleida is a research master student of Media & Performance Studies at Utrecht University. She holds a BA in Communication, Media, and Culture (Panteion University, Athens) and a BFA in Classical Ballet and Contemporary Dance (Kontaxaki Professional Ballet School). Her research focuses on early modern dance, early cinema, gestures, and motion documentation systems. Currently, she is having a research internship with prof. dr. Maaike Bleeker and works at FIBER Festival in Amsterdam.
Dance is a humanities field in which the human is in the spotlight; in the centre of the stage, and, consequently tends to be approached in the most literal sense from an anthropocentric perspective. The history and evolution of Western dance is usually studied as an uninterrupted evolving continuity, in which individual intentions and social influences formulate the status quo of the discipline. This paper aims to examine the transition from classical ballet to early modern dance from a media-archaeological perspective, in order to show that nonhuman-centered methods within the humanities, despite or because of the contradictio in terminis, can expand the potential and the capacity of cultural analysis. It does so by examining Loïe Fuller’s technological experiments and by introducing a rupture in dance historiography, which can be located in the incorporation of ‘new’ technologies on stage (e.g. electricity) and the emergence of ‘new’ analog media at the start of the twentieth century. Fuller was an American performer who experimented with mirrors, reflectors and new aspects of technology such as lighting and electricity. Through her technological experiments, Fuller suggested a new type of performance that did not include only the human performing body. Her experiments and the use of new technologies shifted the centre of a performance from the performing body to an assemblage composed of technical media and the body.