Playing Seduction in Dance Theatre Performance

Claid, Emilyn (2002) Playing Seduction in Dance Theatre Performance. Discourses in Dance, 1 (1). pp. 29-46. ISSN 1474-533X

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Abstract / Summary

This article emerges from ongoing critical reflection on the practice of dance performance. Written from the author’s embodied experiences and perspectives of performing and watching, the article offers theoretical insights into the relations of engagement between performers and spectators in the context of Western ballet. The text begins by offering a strategy with which to explore Western audiences’ fascination with illusion in its oscillating play with the ‘real’. Drawing parallels with the writing of Baudrillard, the term ‘seduction’ is introduced in relation to the ballet spectator’s desire to know, but not know, the ‘real-ness’ of the performer’s body (where the performer is both the object of, and creator of, desire). The article seeks to provoke and explore a contradiction between watching and performing, arguing that what the performer does is not what the spectator sees. The extreme tasks of ballet are described in detail to demonstrate ballet’s paradox: the transcendent linear figure of lightness is achieved only through the dancer’s heavy physical discipline and muscular training.

Having established a framework for performer/spectator relations, the article goes on to examine postmodern and ‘new dance’ performance as generating a process of seduction ‘in reverse’, whereby the spectator interprets the pedestrian performing body in terms of a multiplicity of illusions. Alluding to the theories of Derrida and Deleuze, seduction is refigured as a practice of desiring, a play of ambiguity and meaning-making between performers and spectators. The conventions of dance theoretical writing are interrogated and redressed as the author positions herself in front of and behind the footlights. Subject/object identity politics are discussed from this ec-centric and plural perspective – of being inside and outside the performance.

Item Type: Article
ISBN: 1474-533X
ISSN: 1474-533X
Depositing User: Emilyn Claid
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2014 09:11
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 16:03


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