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Eike Wittrock

Eike Wittrock

Eike Wittrock

Ph.D. Project

"The Arabesque as dance figure of the Romantic Ballet"



The Arabesque is a central figure of the Romantic Ballet, the era of stage dance that developed between 1830 and 1850 mainly in Paris. An analysis of these ballets revolving around this figure allows to unfold central questions of notation and iconicity in dance.

During the time of the Romantic Ballet, no system of dance notation was developed to register the technical and aesthetic innovations of these dances. The Arabesque of the Romantic Ballet, which exemplifies these innovations, can be reconstructed and analyzed from a hybrid body of material. On the basis of visual sources, different text forms (reviews, treatises, descriptions of dance classes) and notations that combine pictorial, diagrammatical and textual elements, the position of the Arabesque in a possible grammar of ballet as well as how this figure integrates narration and the ornament of movement can be determined. The Arabesque articulates the transition from an expressive image in dance to an ornament of movement and the dancer's body as an abstract network of lines.

Subsequently, with reference to the Arabesque a theory of the line has to be developed in comparison to Hogarth's „Line of Beauty". This line-theory combines different art forms within a general and abstract aesthetic principle, with a special focus on dance, since it is mainly a theory of the moving/moved line. Being a form of movement itself the Arabesque captures movement. Thus, the Arabesque as figure of the Romantic Ballet is more than an expressive phrase – it also the attempt to notate movement in a moving medium.


Curriculum Vitae

Since 9/2008

Doctoral fellow at the DFG Research Training Group "'Notational Iconicity': On the materiality, perceptibility and operativity of writing" at the Freie Universität Berlin.


Magister Degree in Theater Studies with a thesis on Merce Cunningham's Beach Birds for Camera and the question of mimesis


Studies in Theater Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin and Musicology at the Humboldt-Universität Berlin with focus on dance, opera and aesthetic theory



Artistic Director of the 6th Context Festival Politics of Ecstasy/Altered States of Presence at Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin (together with Jeremy Wade)


Research for the Pain-Exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart Berlin


Audience introductions at Komische Oper Berlin

Dramaturgies for Daniel Cremer (Eva. Das intrigante Stück, Schauspiel Köln) and Jeremy Wade (Throwing Rainbows Up, Les Subsistances Lyon u.a.)


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