Accepted Paper:

Dance flows of life: entering the Punu water spirit world through movement.  


Carine Plancke (Centre for Research on Culture and Gender)

Paper short abstract:

In rural Punu society circular dance performances are held regularly to celebrate the life-bearing water spirit world. In this paper, the Deleuzian philosophy of B. Massumi and the matrixial theory of B. Ettinger will be adopted in order to account for these practices linking life and movement.

Paper long abstract:

In rural Punu society (Congo-Brazzaville) the relation between life and movement is apparent in the elaboration of the world of water spirits, who manifest in waves, whirlpools or tides, as well as in the vision on circular, intensity rising dancing as the privileged medium to get in contact with this life-bearing universe. Although the spirits are represented as humans and although their water world has a maternal quality, their manifestation in natural phenomena and their association with aquatic, terrestrial and celestial animals present their world as a cosmocentric one that entwines organisms. During celebrations the songs link up sensory images actualizing this interlacing movement and the dancing directly realizes the whirling energy embodied by the spirits.

In order to account for these conceptions and practices, where connecting elements seems to precede over constituting fixed forms, the Deleuzian philosophy of Brian Massumi is very useful. Starting from movement as qualitative transformation, it makes it possible to apprehend the way Punu water spirit dancing, in its very progression, unfolds its potential to link up beings and to become a manifestation of the life flow. A second source of inspiration can be found in the matrixial theory of Bracha Ettinger. Her vision on matrixial borderlinking, based on the intra-uterine experience, as a transformational mutual attuning to distances-in-proximity between co-emerging subjects invites us to consider the connecting water spirit world and the dance process in a way that, while recognizing its anthropocentric, maternal base, illuminates its cosmic life-relating dynamics.

Panel P02
Whirls of organisms: forms and movements of life