Post 1990s Dance Theatre and (the idea of) the Neutral
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The thesis focuses on the concept of neutrality in the works of contemporary European (post 1990s) choreographers. While broad ideas around neutrality are considered, the thesis primarily engages with Roland Barthes’ definition of neutrality as a structural term: 'every inflection that, dodging or baffling the paradigmatic, oppositional structure of meaning, aims at the suspension of the conflictual basis of discourse'. I argue that the minimalist work of Judson Church, New York City, is anticipating the interest in the neutral that will more strongly formulate itself in dance theatre after the 1990s. In the first chapter on Jérôme Bel, the concept of neutrality is introduced as a general idea, together with its inherent problem. The 'problem' is not that this or that element that Bel chooses cannot be perceived as neutral, but that neutral or stage zero can never be neutral enough. The second chapter, dedicated to the work of Thomas Lehmen, explores the idea of 'neutralization' in relation to the notion of the self in Lehmen's performance, where 'It is not I or you who lives: 'one' (une vie) lives in us' (P. Hallward). In the third chapter I argue that in Raimund Hoghe’s performances, love is conceived essentially as a balance between narcissism and pure object-love – as a neutral state. The fourth chapter, on Croatia’s BADco., gravitates around the ways in which group processes function, arguing that the idea of the neutral is located in the ‘invisible hand’ of emergence. The thesis shifts academic performance analysis towards a more concept-based approach, unpicking and/or constructing timeless, abstract and broad concepts and ideas that the work of these choreographers resonates with.
- Theses