Abstract

In recent years, the notion of body schema has been widely discussed in a number of areas, in particular in fields connecting phenomenology, philosophy of mind, the cognitive sciences, and/or dance studies. Although widely accepted, the argument first made by Shaun Gallagher (1986, 1995, 2005) to the effect that this notion should be distinguished from the closely related one of body image, has also recently been subject to criticism by Emmanuel de Saint Aubert (2013). In the first part of this paper, I will examine this criticism, and then proceed to problematizing one presupposition of Gallagher’s analysis of the body schema, namely that it is inaccessible to experience.

In order to explore the manner that the body schema can present itself, albeit “laterally” (to use a Merleau-Pontyan term), the movement language and improvisation technique developed by choreographer Ohad Naharin and playfully called “gaga”, is taken as point of departure. In gaga sessions, the dancers (or ordinary people, as gaga exists both for dancers and for “the people”) are encouraged to investigate into the countless possibilities of the body, which are however often limited by long-established habits and tensions. Through improvisational tasks and with the help of vivid linguistic imagery, the gaga teacher leads the participants to open “new pathways” in their bodies, and to become aware of the bodily presuppositions that make up their corporeal schema.