Postmodern dance and a cognitive niche

Postmodern dance, a movement of the beginning of the 1960’s in New York, is an example of a paradigm change in dance. In response to modern dance and also to Merce Cunningham, a new cognitive niche arised based on the exploration of everyday objects and locations, ordinary rules of action and patterns of motor behavior as dance artifacts. Simone Forti, for example, presented “Five dance constructions and some other things” (1961) [MOMA] at Yoko Ono’s loft, where several artifacts, as a ramp, boxes, see-saw and verbal instructions were introduced to drive the performance. In this example, there is the introduction of available semiotic resources.


A see-saw, for example, is a very well known child playground artifact. When it is used in dance to create movement new possibilities to the performance are opened. In this new dance niche, pedestrian movements can be part of a dance performance, thus conventional dance techniques are not what constitute a choreography anymore.  

Joao Queiroz & Pedro Ata

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