Aaron Meskin

Crossing Borders 2017 | 17 October, 7 - 8.30pm | Philosophising Improvisation: An Artist-Researcher Collaboration

Philosophising Improvisation was a collaboration between Aaron Meskin and Jade Fletcher (philosophers at the University of Leeds) and the independent dancers who comprise Improvisation Exchange Leeds. The project came about after Meskin and the dancers worked together on an international conference on dance improvisation and philosophy—their idea was to follow up with a project in which ‘dancers did more philosophizsing and philosophers did more dancing.’
In a series of workshops, the dancers and philosophers explored the interrelations between philosophy and improvisational dance through discussion of various philosophical texts and a wide range of improvisational exercises and scores. One central focus was the role of various forms of knowledge in dance improvisation. Another focus of attention was the nature of intentional action. The philosophical work discussed included Maxine Sheets-Johnstone on thinking in movement, Elizabeth Anscombe and John Searle on intentional action, and Gilbert Ryle on know-how. On February 28th 2016, the participants shared their work-in-progress with an audience of around 30 people. I propose to share a discussion of the genesis of this project, our working methods, the challenges we faced, and the results of our successful collaboration. Of particular interest will be the way in which the philosophers have been influenced and challenged by the working methods of the dancers, and the ways in which philosophical investigation has informed and challenged the dancers with regard to their artistic practice


Aaron Meskin is associate professor of Philosophy at the University of Leeds where he directs the Centre for Aesthetics and the Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Thought programme. He has edited five books and authored numerous articles on aesthetics and other philosophical topics. He has spoken at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, the Thought Bubble Comics Festival, ProDance Leeds, Beacons Music Festival, Deer Shed Festival, as well as at numerous academic venues.