Dancing in different tongues: A surplus of meaning in illuminating indigenous terrains of contemporary dance


In this article, contesting the belief that dance is a universal, nonverbal language, I consider the different dance languages used by indigenous contemporary dancers to express their worldviews. I also explore, how as dance languages intertwine with or run parallel to verbal languages, performances result in 'dancing in different tongues'. Setting out to illuminate 21st century indigenous terrains of intercultural contemporary dance, I follow a trail of thoughts that emerged during my role as co-convenor for the 2013 Atarau Symposium: Illuminating Indigenous Terrains of Intercultural Dance. Along this trajectory I find contemporary relevance in the semiotics of C. S. Peirce as a means of interpreting two indigenous contemporary dances made in New Zealand. In exploring how these dances function expressively I aim to clarify ways in which indigenous contemporary dance can create a surplus of meaning and how a semiotic translation can illuminate the various cultural terrains in the dancing.


@ The University of Waikato