Phantasmata of Dance: Time and Memory within Choreographic Constraints

Silvia Casini* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article contributes to the scholarly discussion of the relationship between cinema and dance using Giorgio Agamben’s understanding of dance as gesture. To render Agamben’s critical framework operative, however, one needs to consider his reference to the concept of phantasmata (images) taken from Domenico da Piacenza’s Renaissance treatise on choreography. Agamben returns to this treatise to support his argument that dance is concerned first and foremost with time and memory rather than space and the present. To notate dance as a sequence of moving images is not simply to make visible on screen a series of bodily movements in space. Rather, it means acknowledging that dancing is primarily a mental activity. Taking Agamben’s reflections on dance and using Maya Deren’s work on screen dance as a case-study, this article discusses how cinema and dance together prompt us to undo the economy of bodily movements, restoring the body to us transfigured.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-338
Number of pages14
JournalForum for Modern Language Studies
Issue number3
Early online date11 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jul 2019


  • Giorgio Agamben
  • Maya Deren
  • phantasmata
  • inoperative
  • potentiality
  • memory
  • Domenico da Piacenza
  • gesture
  • Memory
  • Potentiality
  • Inoperative
  • Gesture
  • Phantasmata


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