Diffracting dance : im/possibilities and ethical entanglements in current choreographic practices

Perazzo, Daniela (2017) Diffracting dance : im/possibilities and ethical entanglements in current choreographic practices. In: Theatre and Performance Research Association Annual Conference 2017; 30 Aug - 01 Sep 2017, Salford, U.K.. (Unpublished)


This paper considers the ethical potential of choreographic practices which respond to questions raised by the current socio-political moment by staging im/possibilities and dis/orientation. I propose to engage with the ethical discourse that emerges from agential realism and ask: how can the notion of material-discursive entanglements support an investigation of dance dramaturgies that question conventional understandings of modes of interaction? I embrace Karen Barad’s (2007) feminist onto-epistemology as an inspiring framework to discuss the significance of choreography that queers patterns of relationality, with particular focus on the concepts of intra-action and diffraction. Disrupting traditional ideas of temporality, spatiality and materiality, quantum entanglements diffract notions of here-now, there-then and cause-effect, conjuring a field of dis/continuous occurrences. Barad’s argument, which challenges dualistic interpretations of matter and meaning, also points to the destabilising and trans/formative nature of quantum processes, through which historical narratives are unsettled and identities are un/done. I engage with recent works by movement artists as distinct as Trajal Harrell (USA) and Charlotte Spencer (UK). I interrogate how these dances not only reflect on the differences, tensions and contradictions that characterise our socio-political present, but also envision them as tools and methodologies for artistic practice. Their dramaturgies open themselves up to indeterminacy and embody modes of being and becoming which acknowledge the irreducible heterogeneity of our world. Through the lens of Barad’s ethics of entanglement, I argue that such modes of embracing dis/orienting experiences of time and space are ultimately a way of being “responsive to” and of taking “responsibility for” the processes of differentiation of the world we live in (Barad, 2010: 266).

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