The Poetics of Hans van Manen: going towards a visual analysis

Jordi Ribot Thunnissen


Hans van Manen (Amsterdam, 1932) is one of the most danced choreographers alive. His repertoire is known for its condensed power, a quality defined by the German critic Horst Koegler as “nuclear dance” after the premiere of his masterpiece Adagio Hammerklavier in 1973. But even if his name is well known in the dance world, from a theoretical point of view his contribution to the dance panorama and evolution of dance poetics in the second half of the 20th century remains almost unexplored. In order to plug such a gap, my research aims to approach the oeuvre of the Dutch choreographer visually, that is, by analyzing the visual event that his ballets are and how the relationship between the viewer and that which is seen is set to happen in his works. This research project, today still in a preliminary phase, emerges from the Master’s thesis “Hans van Manen: approaching his poetics”, in which I linked Hans van Manen with the discourse around dance aesthetics in the aftermath of World War II in Europe and laid out a possible approach to his oeuvre based on different authors that have written about him so far. In my opinion, van Manen has built a strong, recognizable personal style and poetic point of view which revolves around two main leitmotifs: the recognition of human expression in the abstract form of dance and a certain erotic drive that can be defined in many ways. This article exposes them briefly, and presents the first ideas for further development as discussed with my tutor, Maaike Bleeker, professor of Theatre Studies at Utrecht University.

Paraules clau

choreography, visuality, preliminary research, Hans van Manen, dance

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Copyright (c) 2017 Jordi Ribot Thunnissen

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e-ISSN: 2385-362X | ISSN: 0212-3819