In What a Body Can Do, Ben Spatz develops, for the first time, a rigorous theory of embodied technique as knowledge. He argues that viewing technique as both training and research has much to offer current debates over the role of practice in the university, including the debates around "practice as research."
Drawing on critical perspectives from the sociology of knowledge, phenomenology, dance studies, enactive cognition, and other areas, Spatz argues that technique is a major area of historical and ongoing research in physical culture, performing arts, and everyday life.
Ben Spatz is Lecturer in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Huddersfield. He holds a PhD in Theatre from The Graduate Center, CUNY, and has been a member of the Performance as Research working groups of both IFTR and ASTR. Ben is founder and artistic director of Urban Research Theater since 2004.
CONTENTS Foreword ix JOSEPH ROACH Acknowledgements xi Introduction: What Can a Body Do? 1 A body can ... 1 Five stories 5 From performance to practice 9 Embodiment and sustainability 11 Methodology and chapters 14 1 An epistemology of practice 23 Which epistemology? 23 A selective genealogy of technique 26 The structure of practice 38 Branches and pathways 44 Linguistic peninsulas 48 Sedimented agency 50 The trope of excess 56 Research in embodied technique 60 The problem of the substrate 64 2 The invention of postural yoga 73 Yoga and physical culture 73 A royal success 75 The yoga wars 80 Healthism and "performance" 83 Two studios in the East Village 86 The gendering of yoga 92 Between athletics and somatics 95 A therapeutic turn 100 What is physical education? 104 3 Actors without a theatre 113 Craft and presence 113 Beyond "actor training" 117 Stanislavski's threshold 122 The method of physical actions 129 Grotowski's legacy 132 Songs and other epistemic objects 136 A research culture in acting 147 Interdisciplinarities 153 Laboratories 163 4 Gender as technique 171 How to slice a cheese 171 Research in everyday life 175 The problem of sexual difference 179 Fracturing the feminine 186 Masculinities 191 Identity and inertia 197 Current research in gender 203 New paradigms 209 5 Embodied research in the university 217 Blue skies? 217 The epistemic impulse 221 "Practice as Research" 225 The archive and epistemic distance 234 Research design and methodology 242 The fourth division 247 Bibliography 253 Index 275