Date of Degree

2-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Theatre and Performance

Advisor

Peter Eckersall

Committee Members

Maurya Wickstrom

Claire Bishop

Subject Categories

Dance | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Performance Studies

Keywords

Contemporary choreography, Performing objects, Biopolitics, Posthumanism, Ecocritical theory, Dramaturgy

Abstract

This dissertation investigates the expansion of performative possibilities toward and through nonhumans in contemporary choreography as a feminist inquiry. I research the upsurge of performing objects and natural matter in contemporary choreography by questioning what kind of bodies other than humans can move, and what kind of affects and expressions they offer beyond more familiar and anthropocentric possibilities. I link this challenge to the humanistic limits of performance with the feminist interrogations on agency and objectification to fully explore the political stakes of mobilizing with the nonhuman. To that end, I put the feminist trajectories in posthumanism, new materialism, and ecocriticism in dialogue with contemporary choreography as a critical form of articulation and speculation by bodies in space and time. With this framework, I survey the performances dating between 1975-2020 by five women choreographers from Europe, Japan, and Korea—Pina Bausch, Eiko Otake, Mette Ingvartsen, Gisèle Vienne, and Geumhyung Jeong. I trace the authentic ways in which materiality becomes an active participant in the meaning-making, composition, and reception of their works. I analyze the constellations between human-nonhuman and subject-object in relation to the politics of ecology and sexuality. Thus, I arrive at a generative critique of object agency from within objectification, foregrounding the role of autonomy alongside animacy.

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