Choreomania: Dance and Disorder

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


When political protest is read as epidemic madness, religious ecstasy as nervous disease, and angular dance moves as dark and uncouth, the disorder being described is choreomania. At once a catchall term to denote spontaneous gestures and the unruly movements of crowds, choreomania emerged in the nineteenth century at a time of heightened class conflict, nationalist policy, and colonial rule. In this book, author Kélina Gotman examines these choreographies of unrest, rethinking the modern formation of the choreomania concept as it moved across scientific and social scientific disciplines. Reading archives describing dramatic misformationsof bodies and body politicsshe shows how prejudices against expressivity unravel, in turn revealing widespread anxieties about demonstrative agitation. This history of the fitful body complements stories of nineteenth-century discipline and regimentation. As she notes, constraints on movement imply constraints on political power and agency. In each chapter, Gotman confronts the many ways choreomania works as an extension of discourses shaping colonialist orientalism, which alternately depict riotous bodies as dangerously infected others, and as curious bacchanalian remains. Through her research, Gotman also shows how beneath the radar of this colonial discourse, men and women gathered together to repossess on their terms the gestures of social revolt.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages384
ISBN (Electronic)9780190840433, 9780190840457
ISBN (Print)9780190840419
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2018

Publication series

NameOxford Studies in Dance Theory


  • dance
  • dancing mania
  • choreomania
  • dance history
  • movement disorders
  • history of ideas
  • Michel Foucault
  • dance theory
  • epidemics


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