WHAT DOES THIS BODY MAKE? 

 WHAT DOES THIS BODY MAKE? 

Part of BODY BASED THEORY PRACTICE*

 

BACKGROUND: How do we conceive of self and body?  What scripts are at work? What role does our perception play? How does gender and identity perform itself at the perceptual level? How do these things implicate “other” and design they ways we relate to ourselves, each other and environment? What tools for transformation are already available or yet to be made in dance practices to disrupt hegemonic patterns and make new ones? 

 

From theories of performativity, for example, we can take into account that gender is a stylization of the body that happens through ritual repetition of acts and within a regulatory frame that “over time produces the appearance of a natural sort of being” (Judith Butler, Gender Trouble). Parody and play, like drag performance, reveal the falsity of naturalness by creating a “copy of a copy,” and illuminating that there is no original.  In dance, however, we deal specifically with the materiality of the body, ritual repetition is the basis of training and we repeatedly confront (or in many cases ignore) the socially constructed attributes that are  performed not expressed –in other words our characteristics don’t naturally emerge from an interior self.  And nothing is free from the context it exists within. 

 

In my own practice, I take this to mean that my creative acts are not some expression of a true self, and that I don’t make performances intended to express a certain story, meaning, or feeling necessarily.  Instead, I am experimenting with sharing performative representations of socially constructed and maintained identities, relationships, and systems layered on and inside of my body, in relation to the bodies and objects around me.  

 

DESCRIPTION: During this class we will use our individual and group body to make and unmake ourselves. Working with disorientation, quick shifts of attention, endurance and group dynamics, we will move away from language and towards embodied comprehension. We will push to the edges but also question “edge” as a boundary or distinction between ourselves, others and the space we occupy.

 

WORKFLOW – Classes combine somatic exercises adapted to engage questions about how we construct our bodies and how they are constructed. Proposals are seeded from queer, feminist, and critical race theory that exemplify and disrupt the way identity is embodied. We focus attention to the pressure spaces exert, to the relationship of subject/object as well as the act of relating, to the impact of orientation and disorientation, to reading what our bodies are making through a variety of lenses.  This work is supported through reading and discussion, composing and decomposing performances.

© 2018 Shannon Stewart