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The 23rd EGOS Colloquium 2007  
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Sub-theme 28:
"Strictly come organizing" or "Dance me to the end of strategy"? Movement, embodiment, style and exuberance in choreographing organizational process and practice

 

Convenors:

Stephen Linstead, University of York (UK)

Heather Höpfl, University of Essex (UK)

Hugo Letiche, University of Humanistics/ Utrecht (Netherlands)
 

Sonal Minocha, University of Northumbria/ Newcastle (UK)

Call for papers

"Every dance is to some greater or lesser extent a kind of fever chart, a graph of the heart" (Martha Graham in Janesick, 1994:209)

"Any movement can be material for dance, any procedure can be valid and any space may be danced in". (Cunningham in Banes, 1980:6)

In this stream we invite contributions that embrace the dance metaphor to illuminate both dance and organization and to uncover issues that lie beyond the surface of either – such as power, repression, leading and resisting - and inform such reflection by making links to bodies of philosophically informed thought. Dance has been important to the work of thinkers including Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Theodor Adorno, David Michael Levin, Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze and has been used to embody the challenge to the rationalism of the post-enlightenment, the modern social defense against intimacy and authenticity, the "writing" of bodily experience and the embodiment of semiotics, and the physical expression of human collectivity. In recent thinking on strategy, emphasis has been placed on the flow of process and practice – the dance metaphor enables greater focus on the relatively neglected areas of movement and embodiment. We therefore invite contributions that draw from such inspiration to think and move on. Papers, performances, stimulations, exercises and provocations are welcome – we wish to encourage experimentation that stretches the theme and its boundaries in style and sentiment to make us think organization refreshingly.

One of the most popular television innovations of recent years, dominating Saturday evening prime time in the UK and now taken up by the US and other markets, has been Strictly Come Dancing. In this programme B list celebrities, television newsreaders, former sports champions past their competitive peak, soap character actors etc all with no prior dance training or experience, pair up with a professional ballroom and Latin dancer to be trained and compete in weekly performances against strict competitive rules over several weeks. The work is grueling, the competition tough, the judges often cruel, the standards of the winners high (although everyone improves), the visible enjoyment of dance exhibited palpable – and the viewing is compelling. Dance itself has become nationally and internationally popular again.

At the same time, French/American chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux took her revival of Canadian poet Leonard Cohen’s smoldering enticement Dance Me to the End of Love into the popular music charts on the back of a best-selling album of innovative jazz reinterpretations – and a successful tour characterized by performances that stretched the discipline of the music almost to the point of collapse in playing with timing and expression.

These two contemporary events signify the simultaneous extensive and intensive nature of dance – and its potential power for understanding organization. In the first, judges look for correctness of form, rhythm, grace and execution; interpretation and innovation within the character and patterning of the dance, yet commitment and passion expressed appropriately; the character and personality of the dancers themselves maturing together over the weeks relative to each other. Strict does not mean slavish, nor repressed – but it does mean disciplined, formed and channeled. In the second it is the intensive immanence of dance embodied in Cohen’s rippling flood of images that carries the flow of passion both beyond its frame and beyond the experience itself – the becoming of dance as the becoming of love itself entailing and surpassing its own end, a wildness that is never tamed, but never chaotic either.

With these two examples to mark the possible extremes of the terrain, we invite contributors to take their partners to explore the possibilities of thinking organization and particularly strategic organizing as dance:

  • Organization as Movement

  • Organization as Performance

  • Organization as Form, Style, Ritual and Mimesis

  • Organization as an Expression of Collectivity and Community

  • Organization as Jazz, Effervescence and Exuberance

  • Organization as a Form of Popular Culture or Pastime

  • The Play and Frivolity of Organization

  • The Intimacy of Organization

  • The Gendering of Organization

  • The Practice and Process of Organizing

  • The Historical Secular and religious Organization of Dance

  • Dance, Death, Masquerade, Carnaval

  • Power and Repression

  • Leading and Following

  • Discipline, Creativity and Improvisation

About the convenors

Stephen Linstead (University of York) and Heather Höpfl (University of Essex) have together convened several conference workshops on aesthetics and convened the "Philosophy of Organization" stream at EGOS 2001-6. They together co-edited the journal Culture and Organization, and the book The Aesthetics of Organization (Sage 2000).

Hugo Letiche is Director of the Doctoral Programme in Critical Organizational Studies (KOS) at the Universiteit voor Humanistiek, Utrecht. His published research on the organization of the Netherlands Dance Theatre (2000) pioneered the uniting of dance theory and organization theory.

Sonal Minocha is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Northumbria in the UK and is completing doctoral research on strategy as dance using innovative methodologies, building on her earlier research on the organization of Bollywood, the hugely successful Indian commercial film industry.