startup document (1998)
How do you make yourself a
         dancing Body Without Organs?
  "When you will have made him a body without organs,

then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions

and restored him to his true freedom.

Then you will teach him again to dance wrong side out

as in the frenzy of dance halls

and this wrong side out will be his real place."

A.Artaud (*)

The research and development of concrete strategies to approximate the concept of a Body

Without Organs(*), in order to open up unknown areas for the dancers and audiences.

'practice leading to theory leading to ........'.
The initiators Van de Ven en Meesters are currently running a research and performance

platform in Amsterdam grafted on the work of Min Tanaka, who is one of the leading and

innovative exponents of the dance-form generally described as Butoh, that developed and

came to blossom in the sixties and seventies in Japan. In Butoh there are already a number

of features pointing to the Body Without Organs (a.o. multicenteredness, ongoing

metamorphosis, equal valuation of all parts of the body, exploration of the 'ugly, dark

and unknown' faculties of human expression).

A tangible connection is the collaboration between Min Tanaka and Felix Guattari that

resulted in the publishing of a book (in Japanese, 1985) and in several performances of

Min Tanaka at Guattari's clinic 'La Borde' around the same time.

Another connection is the thesis of Claudia Flammin(*) in which she uses the concept of

the Body Without Organs to analyze Min Tanaka's work, focussing on his concept of 'dancing

a place' instead of merely dancing in a place.

Based on this thesis Meesters and Van de Ven invited Flammin for a preliminary research

period in may '97 in Amsterdam, to initiate a first translation of her analysis into

practical dance work.

What is a Body Without Organs?

While using the notion Body Without Organs Deleuze and Guattari already come to the

conclusion that the Body Without Organs is opposed not to the organs, but to that

organization of the organs called the organism.

The Body Without Organs expresses itself in an attitude of curiosity and observation,

that appears when we ask ourselves what exactly we are doing when we perform the act of

seeing, hearing, feeling, touching and tasting, when we break down the hierarchy of the

senses where the gaze plays a predominant role, when we undermine the automatic signifying

process of the sensual experience.

It goes on when we pursue the intensive, unformed, uncodified material that remains of

the body when its signifiers and its subjectivity have been disorganized.

Following Deleuze and Guattari, we take the three qualities characterizing this Body

without Organs: disarticulation of the organism, experimentation without interpretation

and nomadism.

Within dance, we think :

* A disarticulation of the organism occurs when the dancer works at dismantling and

reassessing the physical and psychological organization of its own subjectivity.

This operation can only be carried out through a thorough and detailed re-

examination of the habitual body;

* Experimentation without interpretation occurs when a dance-experience is lived

through without granting it a pre-fixed meaning, to avoid becoming either signifier

or signified;

* Nomadism occurs when the dancer conceives of his dancing body as a flux, a being

with variable and multiple intensities that has neither a me nor a you

(desubjectification), neither an exterior nor an interior, but is a multiplicity of

fusions which are in a perpetual state of becoming.

....... to practice'

How to come from theory to practice? From our experience with Min Tanaka's work (see CV's) and

from the initial working period in May '97 we arrive at a (as yet incomplete) set of practical

working ideas.

It includes

- working simultaneously with different musical scores for different parts of the body

- in an upbeat tempo thinking of one movement and executing its opposite

- being moved by outside physical impulses without will or interpretation

- deregulation of the breathing

- working on the image of an inside and an outside physical state exploring both sides of the skin

- not conceiving of sensations as subjective knowledge, nor as mechanical event, nor as a

psychological event but as an objective reality, that is extremely varied and has no unity

To secure a certain degree of non-individuality, we want to work with a team of 8 dancers, one

artistic leader/ director and besides Claudia Flammin a theoretician, working in Holland who

is well-versed in the application of Deleuze & Guattari's theories within the Dutch artistic

field. The working period will be two weeks. (*)

In order to advance rapidly we seek to recruit dancers (partly international), who already

have experience in this specific area of dance, and who are achieved performers in their own rights.

The research period will probably end with a studio presentation.

Future performances

Besides the enrichment of our own performative qualities, with the material from this research

period we envision in the near future dance-events around the Body Without Organs, which also

include other artists who are involved with Deleuze, such as architects, visual artists, musicians.

Frank van de Ven - Rolf Meesters - Claudia Flammin



1. Antonin Artaud: "To have done with the judgement of God", a radio play (1947), from "Antonin Artaud, Selected Writings" ed.S.Sontag (1988)

2. Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari: "Mille Plateaux" (1980)

"Thousand Plateaus", transl. Brian Massumi (1987)

3. Claudia Flammin: "Un lieu, une danse: Min Tanaka et la météorologie du corps", un travail théorique de DEA (Diplôme d'étude approfondie) l'université de Paris 8, département danse. (1996)

(4. This has taken place in May 1998 in Amsterdam with 15 participants including a philosopher)

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document date: spring 1998