Dance and Music: Moving Dialogues

Call for Papers

Dance and Music: Moving Dialogues

McGill University, 10–12 March 2011


Unity or independence? To reduce the relationship between music and movement in dance since 1900 to the present to a simple binary perspective is surely questionable.  Unity itself is a notoriously unstable concept, even within these discrete art forms taken individually. Taken together, they generate new, often complex interrelationships, particularly when crossed with other media and disciplines. Nevertheless, unity and independence do continue to provide touchstones for a vast array of choreographic and compositional practices from 1900 to the present. The particular relationship of music and dance has evolved dramatically- from Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, conceived in the wake of Wagnerian calls for Gesamtkunstwerk, to the Cunningham-Cage partnership emerging from a radical questioning of Western traditions, to today’s redefined boundaries of music and dance, new media and accessible technology. How do these affinities and collaborations colour both disciplines? How effective and productive is the communication between scholars of music and dance?

The “Moving Dialogues” conference will provide an occasion to rearticulate and re-imagine the critical questions raised by scholars and practitioners on the difficult art of communicating across these two disciplines. Moreover, it will provide a broad framework of interaction and the sharing of perspectives by music and dance scholars, as well as choreographers and composers.

Parameters suggested by the unity-independence binary define a wide swath of territory for contributions to this conference: documentary studies of particular collaborations, individual work studies that draw attention to the relationship between movement and music, innovations in musical or dance vocabulary, the evolution of structure, formal configurations, the nature of sound, silence, gesture, texture to name a few. Whether on a philosophical or physical level, other projects may center on the influence of recent theories of the body with regard to stimuli, perception, sensation and interpretation.

Papers are also invited on research about writers or artists involved with music/dance productions. Conference organizers also welcome presentations of a more theoretical nature related to meaning.  One might argue, for example, that semiotic precision drains the putatively abstract character from both art forms: to pursue this to one of its logical conclusions is to argue that any intended connection between dance and music produces a certain kind of meaning dissonant with constructions of abstract purity.  Others will want to say that the notion of the abstract is a chimera, or at least critically unproductive.  From such perspectives, movement and musical phrases are grounded in aesthetic values related to broader ideologies.

As an international center for dance and home to a vibrant musical culture supported by five university-level schools of music, Montréal is a natural venue for this interdisciplinary venture.  Five Québec institutions are joining forces this event: organised jointly by the Société québécoise de recherche en musique and the Observatoire international de la création et des cultures musicales (Université de Montréal), with logistical support from Concordia University and the Université de Sherbrooke, this bilingual conference will take place at McGill University 10-12 March 2011.


To Apply

Presentations will be no more than 25 minutes.  Abstracts should be between 750 and 1000 words long. They must be accompanied by a short biography of the author (or the first two authors for collective works), including his/her academic affiliation and e-mail address. Abstracts in French or English (the language of the proposed paper shall be the same as that of the abstract) must be sent by e-mail within the text or as an attachment (preferably a Word file) to the following address:  Abstracts must be received no later than 15 January 2010.  Applicants will be contacted by 31 March 2010.



Conference organizers will endeavour to secure funding for this event; travel assistance and lodging may be available for some participants


Conference Committee

Jacinthe Harbec

Professor, Université de Sherbrooke

Steven Huebner (Chair)

James McGill Professor, McGill University

Sylvain Caron

Professor, Université de Montréal

Silvy Panet-Raymond

Professor, Concordia University

Michel Duchesneau,
Professor, Université de Montréal

Sarah Gutsche-Miller

Doctoral candidate, McGill University


For further information, please contact:

Steven Huebner,


Websites: /