Call for Paper: Eros and Thanatos: Bodies in Dance


Eros and Thanatos: Bodies in Dance

If Eros represents those tendencies within us that aim to preserve life, and Thanatos represents the impulse toward death, how can these forces in our existence be approached from a somaesthetic point of view? The word flesh invites us to consider the eternal dance of Eros and Thanatos in the context of the dance between the potency of sexual desire and the bitterness of decline and finitude, with one always somehow the limit of the other. Contrarily, the word body elicits none of this, since the body is merely the observable, dissectible structure of a living being - the object of science and of ‘care’. Yet somaesthetics, by its very name, appeals not to the body, nor to the flesh, but to the ‘soma’. Shusterman (2014) explains that he chooses ‘soma’ “…to avoid problematic associations of body (which can be a lifeless, mindless thing) and flesh (which designates only the fleshly parts of the body and is strongly associated with Christian notions of sin)” and to emphasize that the somaesthetic project “concerns the lived, sentient, purposive body rather than merely a physical body.” In this context, the upcoming special issue will engage in a dissection of the themes of Eros and/or Thanatos in this context, with a special focus on the dancing body.

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Somaesthetics in Dance: Exploring the application of somaesthetics in understanding the lived experience of dancers, choreographers, and spectators in the context of the themes of Eros and/or Thanatos.
  • Erotic Bodies in Dance: Investigating the manifestation of Eros in dance, examining how choreography, movement, and expression convey sensuality, desire, and connection. How do dancers and/or choreographers embody and communicate the erotic aspects of human experience through their physicality? Can Eros be choreographed or is it always an improvisation?
  • Mortality and Transformation: Exploring the theme of Thanatos in dance, investigating how the art form serves as a vehicle for expressing the themes of mortality, loss, and transformation. How can dance be a means of confronting and transcending the inevitability of death?
  • The Interplay of Eros and Thanatos: Analyzing the intersection of Eros and Thanatos within dance narratives and performances. How do choreographers and dancers navigate the balance (or perhaps imbalance) between these forces, and what narratives emerge from this interplay?
  • A Focus on theorists and a critical appreciation of their contributions in the context of these themes: for example, and especially, the work of Nietzsche, Freud; Bataille, and Lacan.
  • A Focus on practice and practitioners including critical responses to dance works (such as, for example, Maurice Bejart’s ”Eros Thanatos”), the decoding of dance practices, and practitioner essays on creative and destructive processes in choreography, improvisation and dance practice.

The Journal of Somaesthetics is a peer-reviewed, online, academic journal devoted to research that advances the interdisciplinary field of somaesthetics, understood as the critical study and meliorative cultivation of the experience and performance of the living body (or soma) as a site of sensory appreciation (aesthesis), practice, and realization. The term somaesthetics designates an interdisciplinary framework rather than a philosophical position. It deals, on the one hand, with the aesthetic experience of the body as a practice proper and, on the other hand, with the academic conceptualization of the experiencing body and the body experienced; it approaches the body as the mediating center between sensory experiences and cognitive realization. Somaesthetics describes an integrative field of research where aesthetic experiences meet theories about the body and its biological structures and functions, its phenomenological and epistemological functions, and its position and significances in culture and societies. The Journal of Somaesthetics invites proposals of academic papers, essays, and video articles from different fields of somatic practices, empirical research, art, and philosophy. 

For more information about the journal, see

Shusterman, R. (2014, January 1). Somaesthetics. Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF.


  • Abstract Submission Deadline: [14 February 2024]
  • Notification of Acceptance: [28 February 2024]
  • Full Paper Submission Deadline: [30 June 2024]
  • Final Paper submission deadline: [30 August 2024]



Abstracts should be between 250 and 500 words.

Papers should be between 5,000 and 8,000 words and prepared for blind review, according to the Journal’s style guidelines as indicated on the Journal’s website:

Complete articles should be submitted through the link above. Authors should submit a separate cover page indicating the author’s name, institutional affiliation, paper title and abstract, word count, keywords, and contact information.



Catherine Botha 

Falk Heinrich