Dancing Archives of Experience: Surfacing Histories, Staging Subjectivities


  • Alison Bory Davidson College


Building upon the performance theory that positions the “body as archive,” this essay explores the ways in which contemporary dance choreography mines the physical archive to stage subjectivity.  Examining the “choreographic returns” of three contemporary choreographers, Jennifer Monson’s Live Dancing Archive (2012), Jennifer Lacey’s Two Discussions of an Anterior Event (2004), Meredith Monk’s Education of the Girlchild (1972), I consider how re-enacting material from their own previous dance compositions creates an “archive of experience.” In re-embodying and re-positioning past movement material, these dancemakers investigate their own embodiment, examine their own histories, and animate the records of their kinesthetic memories. 

Author Biography

Alison Bory, Davidson College

Alison Bory is Assistant Professor of Dance at Davidson College, where she teaches courses at the intersection of dance theory and practice. A dance scholar, dancemaker, and performer, her research explores contemporary dance compositions that complicate notions of autobiography and self-representation. She is a founding member of AGA Collaborative, a trio of artist-scholars who work across geographic distance to experiment with collaborative writing and performance. She has an MA from the University of Surrey (UK) and an MFA and PhD from the University of California, Riverside.