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Ungoverning DanceContemporary European Theatre Dance and the Commons$
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Ramsay Burt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199321926

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199321926.001.0001

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Laughter from the Surround

Laughter from the Surround

(p.99) 5 Laughter from the Surround
Ungoverning Dance

Ramsay Burt

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on two pieces from the 2000s by Maria La Ribot that involve laughter: 40 Espontáneos and Laughing Hole. It argues that both works allude to the precarious lives of an invisible underclass within Western society. In Stefano Harney and Fred Moten’s terms, the performers in these two pieces are part of an undercommons—outlaws, existing outside the norms of order and regulation on which Western society is structured, whose actions, like laughter, are disruptive and unsettling and deployed as strategies for self-defence. The laughter of the performers in these pieces is, in effect, a gesture of radical passivity of the kind Maurice Blanchot identifies in the figure of Bartelby in a novella by Herman Melville. There is also an uncanny sense of connection between the seemingly unrelated performers in these pieces, which is evidence of a recognition of others’ needs and of the need to take responsibility in an ethical way.

Keywords:   precarity, undercommons, Bartelby, Blanchot, Levinas, La Ribot

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