Dis/Orientation: Rhythmic Bodies and Corporeal Orature in The Fits


  • Elena Benthaus University of Melbourne School of Culture and Communication




The Fits, corporeal orature, rhythmic corporeality, cypher, dis/orientation


In Anna Rose Holmer’s 2015 film The Fits, 11-year old protagonist Toni is depicted as moving between the steady rhythms of the local boys’ boxing club and the highly syncopated, vertiginous, call-and-response rhythms of the local girls’ drill dance team, all of which culminates into a polyrhythmic, contagious, and seemingly uncontrollable, uncontainable, and indescribable form of fitful corporeal fainting spell. Since the film does not overly depend on dialogue, the film’s affective-ness relies on the protagonists’ expressive and active corporeality, as that which moves in between different spaces and rhythms. Often described as a coming-of-age story, in this article, I will be looking at The Fits as a dance film in order to examine the film through its beats and rhythms by drawing specifically on Thomas DeFrantz’ concept of corporeal orature, Julian Henriques’ notion of affective vibration, Imani Perry’s notion of the cypher, and Brenda Dixon Gottschild’s concept of polycentrism/polyrhythmicality. In relation to this I propose that spectators are drawn into this movie by a constant negotiation of movement as that which sits at the border of consciousness, giving access to a spectatorial experience, in which the moving, rhythmic bodies-on-screen serve simultaneously as points of orientation and disorientation.