Topophilia and Topophobia: Charting site-based movement on the vertical | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1757-1871
  • E-ISSN: 1757-188X



Reflecting on pre-existing models of site-based contemporary performance practice, this article will introduce dance ecologist Rachel Sweeney’s recent experiences participating in the Vertical Nature Base dance and rock-climbing collaborative project together with Steve Batts and Dan Shipsides in coastal northern Donegal. Here the author’s on-hand experiences of negotiating vertical and horizontal site-based movement strategies will challenge the notion of gravity as informing dance’s interrogation of site, illustrating how emergent responses to moving from the horizontal to the vertical might present their own critique of map-making, performance writing and ephemera, in moving between different kinesthetic states as defined by proximity to land. Underlying the writing here, the terms topophobia and topophilia point to the body’s own physiological response that can shift register considerably between these polarized sensations as the body seeks to re-establish its own parameters for movement both on and off the ground.


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