Ballet is semiosis

Ballet is a sign in action. It is a unique process of meaning that continues to emerge in time through the interplay of material situated conditions afforded by cognitive artifacts at a given moment and habits of sign action within networks of semiotic chains. This process has emerged as a relation of meaning involving different kinds of cognitive artifacts: musical, bodily/motor, visual and pictoric, spatial and architectonic, etc.


Before the emergence, these cognitive artifacts developed according to various semiotic habits: e.g., etiquette and fencing regulated body discipline, perspective regulated the architectonic space of theatre stages and the pictoric space of the canvas. In classical ballet, a novel and unique habit emerges that regulates the behavior of several cognitive artifacts. One case is the development of the verticality of dance in classical ballet as a semiotic relation connecting proscenium arch stages and dancers as temporally distributed signs. 

This development is micro-semiotically determined by the spatial conditions of the proscenium arch stage, and macro-semiotically determined by a historical construction of the body of the dancer within a network of semiotic chains, such as the body of the dancer as a pictoric object in a painting tableaux organized by one-point perspective, or as an embodiment of the aesthetic ideals of literary Romanticism. This is not only the emergence of actual meaning, but also the emergence of an open-ended field of potential and general meanings, a self-organized and temporally-distributed semiotic process.

See: Atã, P.; Queiroz, J. 2019. Emergent sign-action: classical ballet as a self-organized and temporally distributed semiotic process. European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy-EJPAP, XI-2. (link)


Joao Queiroz & Pedro Ata

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