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In Conversation: Psychoanalysis and the Arts

In Conversation: Psychoanalyis and the Arts

Title: The Language of Dance and the Creative Act in Rage: My Heart is a Spoon

Maxine Heppner, choreographer and dancer, Across Oceans Arts Projects
Mavis Himes, psychoanalyst, Speaking of Lacan Psychoanalytic Association

When we say that someone is dancing, we are usually describing graceful, strong and rhythmic movement. In fact, we are responding to the energy and pulses that dance generates and stimulates in both the dance artist and the witness. The dancer moving freely through space uses strong physicality and a range of bodily movements that structure energy into silent forms, rhythms and syncopations. The witness receives this information both physically and intellectually.

Dance generates meaning to its audience through these pulses and energies of movement, as well as through forms of symbolic human actions. Dance also communicates through a silent form of speech inspired by the choreographer’s vision. What may seem like a series of moving collages, is, in fact, a carefully constructed non-verbal language with syntax, punctuation and phrasing. Impulses are translated into movement vocabulary that conforms with a particular syntactical grammar arising from the theme of the dance itself.

In this presentation, we will begin with a video clip from Maxine’s new choreography My Heart is a Spoon, and we will witness the formulation of an idea being transposed into a piece of dance. The choreographic work itself is the choreographer’s investigation of actions rising from the energy of rage and was inspired by the forms and energies of manga, the Japanese genre of comic and print cartoons, ukiyo-e (pictures of the floating world), a genre of woodcut prints, and cosplay, (a neologism of costume and play). In its final form, My Heart is a Spoon is a quest and it portrays in movement a search for communication that escapes the limitations of speech.

In this dialogue, we will try to answer some of the following questions: In the creation of a dance, is there necessarily a connection between the idea that inspires a piece and the finished product? What can we learn from the discourse of the artist? Is it the same as that of the analyst? If we say, with Lacan, that ‘the unconscious is structured like a language,’ then how is the language of dance structured and what is its relationship to the unconscious?  Using  My Heart is a Spoon, we will examine these questions while examining the creative process that inspired and informed the making of this piece.

Time & Location

Date: Saturday, January 7, 2012

Time: 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Place: Women’s Art Association, 23 Prince Arthur Ave., Toronto, ON

Fee: $25.00 (students - $10.00)

Contact: Mavis Himes - or 416-969-8706

Please R.S.V.P. by phone or e-mail. Mavis Himes: 416-969-8706 or
For more information:
Receipts will be available at the time of the presentation.

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