Improvising Philosophy: Thoughts on Teaching and Ways of Being


  • Harmony Bench The Ohio State University


This short meditation reflects on the possibilities for engaging political and philosophical thought through dance improvisation. This essay recounts the author’s experience of teaching a dance improvisation course in Autumn 2014, in which philosophy and physical investigation were joined to consider conditions of life and livability. It is argued that movement improvisation can function as a means of cultivating and habituating participants to alternate ways of being, and that such a move is necessary if we are to collectively discover or create a way to live together.

Author Biography

Harmony Bench, The Ohio State University

Harmony Bench, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Dance at The Ohio State University, where she teaches in the areas of Dance, Media/Digital Humanities, and Performance Studies. Her writing can be found in such journals as Dance Research Journal, The International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, Participations, and The International Journal of Screendance, for which she currently serves as co-editor with Simon Ellis. Essays can also be found in the Oxford Handbook of Dance and the Popular Screen, Choreographies of 21st Century War, and Dance on Its Own Terms: Histories and Methodologies, among others. Her book, Dance as Common: Movement as Belonging in Digital Cultures, is under contract with the University of Minnesota Press. She is also working on a digital humanities and database project called Mapping Touring, which is focused on the touring and performance engagements of early 20th century dance companies. More information on Mapping Touring can be found at