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Notating War, Choreographing Soldiers: Dance Methods as Military Stratagem

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Charlotte Veal


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There is a long history of the enterprising, open approach of the military during periods of conflict. At a time when the promises and possibilities of creative methods for military studies are gaining traction, it is worth reflecting critically upon the litheness of the military in putting diverse creative knowledge, techniques, methods, and practices to work in the pursuit of geopolitics. This chapter examines the British military’s solicitation of dance-led methods and embodied knowledges in the furtherance of vertical warfare. It draws upon an experimental partnership between RAF Ringway and dance theorist Rudolf Laban in the immediate aftermath of World War II. First, the chapter traces movement ethnography deployed during preparatory training for informing the ‘art of falling’. Second, I examine dance notation as an artful method for systematically recording martial efficiency during three-dimensional warfare. Finally, I turn to movement training as a method for cultivating elite bodies for war. Against much interest in the theories and methods of creativity, I call for sustained scholarly enquiries into the historical geographies of military coercion and enterprising solicitation of artists in the service of statecraft. Military’s willingness to employ artful knowledges and practices during periods of war and peace also warrants caution over the labours deployed when practicing creative methods for military research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Veal C

Editor(s): Cree, A

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Creative Methods in Military Studies

Year: 2023

Print publication date: 01/06/2023

Acceptance date: 31/10/2022

Publisher: Coles Books

Place Published: Bicester


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781538160978