Layering and questioning : reconfigurations of minimalism in Jonathan Burrows' choreography

Perazzo Domm, Daniela (2016) Layering and questioning : reconfigurations of minimalism in Jonathan Burrows' choreography. In: Minimalism : Location Aspect Moment; 14-15 Oct 2016, Winchester, U.K.. (Unpublished)


The thirty-year dance career of the British choreographer Jonathan Burrows has often been defined in critical literature in terms of its relationship with minimalist traditions in dance and music. The close dialogue he developed with the explorations of pedestrian movement initiated by the Judson Church choreographers in New York, his collaborations with British and continental European artists interrogating formalist practices – especially Rosemary Butcher and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker – and his partnerships with composers associated with the post-minimalist movement – Kevin Volans and, primarily, Matteo Fargion – provide the background for a reading of the scenographic reduction, compositional clarity and aesthetic simplicity of his dances. In this paper I question the productivity of these categorisations and I emphasise the ambiguities of the formalist dance tradition’s engagement with content. Through a close inspection of examples of Burrows’ choreographic language, I problematise their self-referential approach and highlight their strong relational and dialogical qualities. I draw attention to the potentialities opened by a reading of the relationship between form and content that acknowledges plurality and ambivalence. I suggest that content is expressed in Burrows’ work through an unconventional use of form, upholding a rethinking of dance’s strategies of signification.

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