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Literature, Modernism, and Dance$
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Susan Jones

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565320

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565320.001.0001

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Samuel Beckett and Choreography

Samuel Beckett and Choreography

(p.279) 12 Samuel Beckett and Choreography
Literature, Modernism, and Dance

Susan Jones

Oxford University Press

Extending the theme of close relationships between dance and drama, this final chapter turns to Samuel Beckett's experimental drama as an important site for choreographic innovation in the twentieth century. The discussion suggests new sources for specific plays, showing that Beckett's understanding of contemporary choreography began with his spectatorship of dance in the 1930s. The chapter identifies two kinds of movement in the plays, one mimetic, and one abstract, and sources or allusions to dance come from the Diaghilev production of Petrouchka and Oskar Schlemmer's Bauhaus Dances. The chapter examines Beckett's philosophical interest in the relationship between human and mechanical movement and self-consciousness, drawing on the discussions of Arnold Geulincx, Heinrich von Keist, and Arthur Schopenhauer. Beckett's choreography places his work in a long European tradition of innovations in drama and dance that continue in the work of European and American choreographers to this day.

Keywords:   Beckett, experimental drama, philosophy, Kleist, marionettes, Petrouchka, Schlemmer, Bauhaus, mobility, stillness

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