Title

Embodied Signs: Reading Gesture and Posture in Classic Maya Dance

Keywords

Maya, Maya dance, Peircean semiotic theory, Laban movement analysis

Abstract

In this article, we couple Peircean semiotic theory with Laban movement analysis (LMA) to interpret scenes of Classic period Maya dance. We focus primarily on depictions found on polychrome ceramics that feature the dances of the Maize God and contrast them with those featuring the wahy creatures that inhabit the underworld. We interpret their inner emotional states based on their postural and gestural vocabularies using LMA, developed for that very purpose. The body can be considered a semiotic sign, and is therefore capable of simultaneously conveying iconic, symbolic, and indexical meanings. Maya dance has typically been interpreted at the iconic or symbolic levels, which reveal its mimetic or representational qualities. We explore the indexical qualities of the bodies of the dancers, and propose that shifting our attention to the indicative mode enables us to gain yet more insight into their embodied states.

Original Publication Citation

Embodied Signs: Reading Gesture and Posturein Classic Maya Dance. With Justine Lemos. In Latin American Antiquity29(2), 2018, pp. 368–385.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2018-04-10

Publisher

Latin American Antiquity

Language

English

College

Religious Education

Department

Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor

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