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On Hospitality and Gesture

© Bellamy

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Rachid Ouramdane, Anne-Gaëlle Saliot, Felwine Sarr in conversation on Hospitality and Gesture.

Discussion moderated by Michael Kliën. 
(Professor of the Practice of Dance, Director of the MFA Program in Dance, Duke University)

This discussion is part of a Transatlantic series of events on hospitality launched by Duke University and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Atlanta.

At its most basic level, hospitality is what occurs when there is contact with an Other and gestures are shared. Jacques Derrida famously argued that it is always underpinned by mastery and hostility, thus coining the term “hostipitality.” Our daily gestures can become machinic, atrophied, even hostile, and expressions of this “hostipitality.” 

There is a constitutive paradox to the aesthetic gestures of dance: dance overrides linguistic barriers and is based on what is the most widely shared, the human body, yet these gestures are encoded, in the most sensitive manner, with the weight of social practices, political experiences, and collective histories, to the point that they are at times perceived as cultural metonymies. The increasing globalization of our kinetic forms of knowledge forces us to question the “universel singulier” expressed in our gestures. How can dance create both affective and critical gestures (what Yves Citton calls “gestures of humanity”) that enable practical and sensorial forms of hospitality? How can choreography, as the art of writing gestures and bodily mobility, help us conceive and enact proper forms of “rapprochement?” 


© ChrisMcAndrew

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is a Belgian-Moroccan dancer, choreographer, and director. He has made over 50 choreographic pieces and received two Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production, three Ballet Tanz awards for best choreographer (2008, 2011, 2017) and the KAIROS Prize (2009). In 2010 he founded his own company, Eastman. Since 2015, he has served as the artistic director at the Royal Ballet of Flanders. He is also an associate artist at Sadler’s Wells, London, and Théâtre National de Bretagne, Rennes.  

 © Géraldine_Aresteanu

Rachid Ouramdane is a French dancer, choreographer, and director. He has been associate artist at  Theâtre de la ville in Paris, and co-director of the CCN2-Centre Chorégraphique National de Grenoble in France. He is the new Director of Théâtre Chaillot (Paris). He is regularly invited to work on collaborations in places such as the Lyon Opera Ballet and the Russian company Migrazia. His work is based on a meticulous collection of evidence, in collaboration with filmmakers or authors. Through the art of dance, he aims to contribute to social debates such as hospitality given to vulnerable populations.

 © Gabriel Richard

Anne-Gaëlle Saliot is Associate Professor of Romance Studies and Core Faculty of Cinematic Arts in the Department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University. Her research explores translations and migrations of cultural objects across epochs, and across geographical and linguistic frontiers. Her work encompasses literature, theories of the visual, film studies, and dance. She is the author of The Drowned Muse (Oxford University Press, 2015) and the co-editor of the Cahiers de la NRF dedicated to Philippe Forest.

 © Antoine Tempé

Felwine Sarr is a Senegalese scholar and writer. He is the Anne-Marie Bryan Distinguished Professor of Romance Studies at Duke University, having arrived at Duke from the Université Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis in Senegal. His academic work focuses on the ecology of knowledge, contemporary African philosophy, epistemology, economics, and the history of religious ideas. He recently published Restituer le patrimoine Africain (Philippe Rey/Seuil) with Benedicte Savoy and La Saveur des derniers mètres (Philippe Rey 2020). 



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