Skipped stakes of lightness: A failure of knowledge

Document Type

Journal Article


University of Canberra


Faculty of Education and Arts


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications




Phillips, M. J. (2012). Skipped stakes of lightness: A failure of knowledge. Axon: Creative Explorations, 2(1), 14p.. Available here


Experiencing a young girl skipping down a university pathway provoked contemplation about physical experimentation and its actuality in the epistemological order of things. Why is this child the only one who knows how weight bounces in delicious counterpoint, how the bipedal regularity can be subverted and dispersed into an asymmetrical patterning, how movement interacts with earth’s felt inertia, and how a sense of freedom, desire, élan and power courses through her physicality as she skips? Skipping is a complex coordination activity in child development, signalling the potential for an inordinate variety of high order development skills and yet skipping is not usually included in the repertoire of adult knowledge pursued in academic parameters. That provocation led to speculations about the metaphorical potentiality of skipping as an action which could alter or provide a variation to the norm of bipedal thought, introducing at a fundamental level a notion of irregularity. One embodied track of investigation circled back to Lakoff and Johnson’s metaphorical conceptualisations (2003) where they posit that the body provides patterns for use across other domains which accumulatively build into complex thinking. Another track moved forward to embodied cognition and current ideas about mechanisms of sensory processing and motor control that ground the mind. Both explanative systems make sense to the experiences of my once-dancing body but also highlight the silo effects of disciplinary knowledge wherein, for example, anthropology, cognitive science and dance, although concerned with the same puzzling phenomena about thought and consciousness, never engage in an exchange of what and how they know. I have the skipping girl to thank for thinking—across its multiple modes—that understanding might be otherwise.

Access Rights