Laura Gonzalez


17 Jan 2005


Agrippina writes: “The manner of holding the hands in the preparatory position, as well as in the subsequent positions, can be shown only in actual demonstrations. It is very difficult to describe. To a certain extent, the accompanying illustrations will help. I shall add the following explanation.”

The merit of Ms Vaganova isn’t in her foolish attempt to write about what cannot be written; nor is her clumsy but charming style, difficult to see in this minimal quote. What makes her so great is her worry about legacy. Before her, nobody had attempted to write, to articulate for posterity the principles of Russian ballet technique. If she hadn’t been there, pen in hand, trying to describe the dos and don’ts of a perfect pli?© and the relationship of the Russian syllabus to Ceccheti’s teaching method despite her knowledge that this vast task was partly in vain, we wouldn’t have technically and aesthetically natural ballerinas. Russia couldn’t have attained the top of the ballet ranks either.

Vaganova knew that ballet teaching, particularly when it came to sorting out frustrations, shouldn’t be a lonely enterprise. She set out to share her experiences and experiments, trying to design a good pedagogical basis that would enhance not only the pupil’s suppleness but their continuous progress as well.

What I am trying to do starts with the unspeakable too, or rather with what no one has taken the pains to describe. And here I am, marvelling at Vaganova’s awkward prose and thanking her for being so generous.

Posted in Blog, Peripheral thoughts, PhD

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About Me

I am an artist and writer. My recent practice performance, film, dance, photography and text, and my work has been performed, exhibited and published in many venues in Europe and the US. I have spoken at numerous conferences and events, including the Museum for the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Medical Museum in Copenhagen, College Arts Association and the Association for the Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society. When I am not following Freud, Lacan and Marx’s footsteps with my camera or creating performance works as part of my Athenaeum Research Fellowship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I teach postgraduate students at Transart Institute.

I am currently immersed in an interdisciplinary project exploring knowledge and the body of the hysteric. In 2013, together with Child and Adolescent Mental Health practitioner Frances Davies, I co-edited the book ‘Madness, Women and the Power of Art’, to which I contributed a work authored with Eleanor Bowen. My book ‘Make Me Yours: How Art Seduces’ was published by Cambridge Scholars in 2016. In this text, investigates psychoanalytic approaches to making and understanding objects of seduction, including an examination of parallels between artistic and analytic practices, a study of Manolo Blahnik’s shoes as objects of desire, a disturbing encounter with Marcel Duchamp’s last work, and the creation of a psychoanalytically inspired Discourse of the Artefact, a framework enabling the circulation of questions and answers through a relational approach to artworks.