Choreographing problems : expressive concepts in European contemporary dance

Cvejić, Bojana (2013) Choreographing problems : expressive concepts in European contemporary dance. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This dissertation explores how a recent set of practices in contemporary choreography in Europe (1998 - 2007) give rise to distinctive concepts of its own, concepts that account for processes of making, performing, and attending choreographic performances. The concepts express problems that distinguish the creation of seven works examined here ('Self unfinished' and 'Untitled' by Xavier Le Roy, 'Weak dance strong questions' by Jonathan Burrows and Jan Ritesma, 'heatre-elevision' by Boris Charmatz, 'Nvbsl' by Eszter Salamon, '50/50' by Mette Ingvartsen, and 'It's in the air' by Ingvartsen and Jefta van Dinther). The problems posed by these choreographers critically address the prevailing regime of representation in theatrical dance, a regime characterized by an emphasis on bodily movement, identification of the human body, and the theater's act of communication in the reception of the audience. In the works considered here, the synthesis between the body and movement - as the relation of movement to the body as its subject or of movement to the object of dance - upon which modern dance is founded is broken. Choreographing problems, in the sense explored in this dissertation, involves composing these ruptures between movement, the body and duration in performance such that they engender a shock upon sensibility, one that inhibits recognition. Thus problems "force" thinking as an exercise of the limits of sensibility that can be accounted for not by representation, but by the principle of expression that Gilles Deleuze develops from Spinoza'a philosophy. "Part-bodies", "part-machines", "movement-sensations", "headbox", "wired assemblings", "stutterances", "power-motion", "crisis-motion", "cut-ending", and "resonance" are proposed here as expressive concepts that account for the construction of problems and compositions that desubjectivize or disobjectivize relations between movement, body, and duration, between performing and attending (to) performance. Developed through a careful analysis of how problems structure these performances, this thesis on expressive conceots further contributes to a redefinition of performance in general by making two additional claims. The first concerns the disjunction between making, performing and attending as three distinct modes of performance that involve divergent temporalities and processes. The second regards the shift from performance as the act in passing present towards the temporalization of performance qua process, where movement and duration are equated with ongoing transforation, a process that makes the past persist in the present.

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