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In Conversation: Psychoanalysis and the Arts

In Conversation: Psychoanalysis and the Arts

Dance and Transcendance of the Symbolic Order in Peggy Baker's 'Portal'


Peggy Baker, choreographer and dancer, Peggy Baker Dance Projects
Mavis Himes, pyschoanalyst, Speaking of Lacan Psychoanalytic Association


Portal - a point of entry, an entranceway, an opening. One enters a room, one enters an auditorium. One can also enter a profession, one enters psychoanalysis. One enters by crossing a threshold... into something new and unknown. Upon entering a theatre space, one is exposed to an experience of dance. Upon entering psychoanalysis, one is introduced to the dark realm of psychic life. In both cases, something of the novel is anticipated - a discovery, perhaps a transformation.

In Peggy Baker’s Portal, we enter the silence of a blackened theatre with shards of light in which a dancer appears. With each appearance of light, the audience is invited to experience the essence of bodily movement and of the dancer herself. Lacan has written that the unconscious makes itself felt in brief appearances but never sticks around to take a bow. In Portal with its spontaneous bursts of the dancer’s appearance, we enter an unknown landscape in the same way we enter the unknown space of psychoanalysis.

Using Peggy Baker’s piece Portal, we will explore the artistry of dance and movement. In this dialogue, we will explore such questions as: What is the point of entry in both dance and analysis? What can we learn from the discourse of the artist? Is it the same as that of the analyst? What are the similarities and differences between the psychoanalytic act and the creative act?  By suspending our conscious discourse, do movement and dance bring us closer to a way of touching the real, that hole in the symbolic that locks us into our symptom and a stasis of early identifications? 

Date: Saturday, February 4, 2012

Time:  9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

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

Fee:  $25.00 (students - $10.00)

Contact: or  416-969-8706

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