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Audiences, choreography, publics: the politics & practice of spectatorship

Conibere, Nicola (2015). Audiences, choreography, publics: the politics & practice of spectatorship. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance)


The question of how some bodies appear to others, and how those bodies collectively relate with each other, is central to choreography and to concerns of the state. When the role of theatre spectatorship is discussed in political discourse, it typically invokes the binary of the passive versus the active; the passive is dismissed as socially worthless and the active as invigorating community. I would like to explore more expansive experiences of spectatorship, in order to articulate in what ways bodies relate beyond the representational operations that underlie these terms. My approach is to use choreographic practice to create particular conditions of appearance and relation, as discussion and experience of spectatorial exchange. This project occurs in a context of artists’ and scholars’ interest in the politics of theatre’s operations of appearance, and in choreography’s relational productivity. It asks why, given the spectatorial relations fundamental to everyday life, we repeatedly go to performances. The original choreographic works Count Two, Practice and Assembly consider how qualities of spectatorial relation are affected by performance strategies that address the potentials of linguistic structures, theatricality, materiality and viewing conventions. Drawing on a Rancièrian notion of emancipated spectatorship, Count Two sought to discover how the content and structure of a piece might acknowledge the spectator’s activity of watching. Through its repeated re-­‐categorisation of components, the piece invoked qualities of instability as inherent to logocentric structures. The affective relations investigated through Practice’s embrace of the thought, felt and materially endured, provided an opportunity to attend to the ways we might experience spectatorial exchange within unstable systems, as attention to what is present. Finally, Assembly asked what a crowd of bodies can do other than serve representational ideas of public-­‐ness, and suggests that an impulse to gather is also an impulse to be vulnerable. These pieces provided a chance to explore how relations are experienced, as unstable relations, through our many perceptive capacities. Choreography asserts itself as the production of situations of generative relating, through spectatorial experiences of choreography as a ‘being-­‐for-­‐others’.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Departments: Doctoral Theses
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