International conference

While the Paris Olympic and Paralympic games are set to begin in 2024, this international conference wishes to interrogate the history and practice of dance competitions, in connection to competitive sports events. If much has been written on competing, especially in an Olympic setting, dance has received less critical attention 1 when it comes to its physical, artistic and social dimensions.

28 > 30.09.2023

Communication proposal to be sent before 1.12.2022

What does competing involve? If the verb “to compete” in its most common meaning conveys a sense of challenge, of competing against one another, its Latin origin was understood in the Renaissance period to refer to “coming together”, and “agreeing”. In mathematics, “competing” means “converging”, therefore referring to the Early Modern meaning of the term and to the idea of “converging at the same time and place”.

Competing also articulates a certain proxemic lexical dimension, around which notions of antagonism and inter-dependence gravitate. Thus, the term “competition”, which refers to “a contest between rivals”, also conveys a sense of working concurrently, of competing towards a similar goal, and is also etymologically connected to the idea of “concurring”, of agreeing, or to the meeting of concurrent lines in one point. “Competition” has a sense of simultaneity, of bringing people together around a common objective. In addition to its use in the fields of trade or politics, its meaning was broadened in 19th-century England to designate more peaceful forms of rivalry, especially in connection to sports. The term “challenge” was used in the context of the first baseball games, horse-riding events and races, or athletic events, which were all both competitions and games, with an idea of rivalry but also a playful component.

One of our objectives will therefore be to develop a documented reflection around the history of competing in dance so as to enrich our knowledge of dance culture around the world. We invite a great diversity of points of view and experiences from contributors, and we hope to mobilize both micro- and macro-readings of several historical, social, economic, political and cultural contexts, as well as multiple fields of study, from dance and sports research to movement analysis, medicine, anthropology, praxeology, philosophy as well as socio-cultural history and sociology.