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Witness – dance improvisation, affective experience and participatory performance

conference contribution
posted on 2017-07-07, 00:00 authored by Shaun McLeodShaun McLeod
Performed in Melbourne in 2014 and again in 2016, Witness is an experimental, participatory dance performance. Created by Shaun McLeod as a component of his practice-based PhD thesis, and performed by 5 dancers, the work is premised on the structure and ethos of the Authentic Movement (AM) relationship between mover and witness. This relationship implicates movers and witnesses in a specific ontological framework of somatic attendance, movement improvisation, reflexive attention and non-judgmental care. Moving and watching within AM generate experiences and movement qualities replete with affect and within the performative situation that Witness establishes, these affective encounters become the substance of the event. Yet when transferred into performance, the therapeutic attributes and ethical demands of AM create both specific opportunities and irreconcilable paradoxes, in which meanings and value are open, contestable and unresolved. With the audience framed not as ‘consumers of artistic content’, but as agentive witnesses specifically entangled in the creation of the event, Witness quietly defies assumptions about conventional audience-performer relationships. As well as this, the performative context unsettles the place of the mover/performer; the relationship to the ‘singular authenticity’ of the mover (in AM), and the performer’s positioning as the central presence, are both disrupted by setting the dancer’s experience within a fluid, intermingling field of action and change initiated by all present. This paper details some of the intricacies and paradoxes of the performative situation in Witness as well as analysing aspects of the affective encounters it produced.

History

Event

Centre for Dance Research. Conference (4th : 2017 : Coventry, Eng.)

Series

Centre for Dance Research Conference

Publisher

C-DaRE, Coventry University

Location

Coventry, Eng.

Place of publication

Coventry, Eng.

Start date

2017-07-07

End date

2017-07-09

Language

eng

Publication classification

EN Other conference paper

Copyright notice

2017, C-DaRE

Extent

Paper presentation

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