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Philosophy Matters: Dancing Plague – Crowd Dance and the Loss of Executive Control

March 22, 2022 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


This presentation features Christian Kronsted, who, in addition to having a a Ph.D. in philosophy and cognitive science from the University of Memphis, is a competitive breakdancer with Stylin Out Crew (Chicago) and 5 Crew Dynasty (New York City).

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About the Event

History contains several instances of improvised dancing leading to a loss of executive control – the dancer cannot stop dancing. Perhaps the most famous case is the Strasburg Dancing Plague of 1518, in which an estimated four hundred people danced until they dropped. While the dancing plague has mysteriously disappeared as an affliction, I argue that the phenomenon is often observable on smaller scales at raves, Chicago Juke parties, dance clubs, ritual dancing and in other instances of crowd improvised dancing.

I use 4E cognitive science (enactive, embedded, extended and embodied) and dynamical systems to argue that instances of “dancing plague” can be explained as cases of resonant frequency and hyper-distributed agency. In this talk I will draw on contemporary dance practices in the Chicagoland area including, house dance, breakdancing and Chicago juke.

To request a disability-related accommodation, please contact the Office of Institutional Equity at oie@pnw.edu or (219) 989-2163 five days prior to the event.