Agency and Embodied Ideology – The Case of Dance Teachers
Teaching bodies receive very little scholarly attention, even in fields such as dance education, in which the body is so fundamental. Based on an ethnographic study of dance teachers, and focused on the teaching-dancing body, this article examines the conduct of the teaching body as an agentic and ideological site. Rather than focusing on the power relation paradigm between dance teachers and their students, the research explores the ways dance teachers teach with, and through, their bodies as expressions of cultural and educational values and world views. What are these values and views? How do teachers' bodies negotiate them? How do they inculcate or change them? What lived experiences do these values and views create? These questions are explored through the concept I introduce as body signature, defined in this context as the unique teaching style of each teacher; her singular way of moving, teaching and experiencing through a given physical-cultural-historical framework. The article presents three signatures: "the virtuosic body," "the therapeutic body," and "the enigmatic body," arguing that these embodiments are constructed through a merging of Western educational ideologies and the teachers' physical-cultural-historical framework, which continually reshapes these ideas. I contend that the concept of body signature stresses the constant tension between the authentic, fleeting act and expression, and stable cultural structures. The article illuminates the centrality and power of the teaching body and offers a unique lens through which to explore the dynamics of educating bodies and their socio-cultural contexts.