Staging Invisible Disease in Dance Performance
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This thesis examines the staging strategies of invisible disease in contemporary dance performances. I create a foundation for exploring what stands for invisible disease in each of the case studies, using Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s reading by three contemporary philosophers Ian Buchanan, Nick Fox, and Cameron Duff. I then move to different constituent elements of the diseases, introducing those that affect it most significantly, such as “messiness of the body” or “labelling,” activating these concepts through researchers like Petra Kuppers and Michel Foucault. I then propose to look at the dance performance as an alternative vision machine, which possibly subverts the power modalities, creating a possibility for the creators and dancers to examine diseased bodies by themselves and giving voice to the muted object of medical procedures. From this perspective, I offer a performance analysis of very different, yet closely related, cases of invisible diseases and show how the performance allows them to become visible. I also argue that the practice of sharing knowledge about a disease does not always demand a full understanding of the condition, nor does it allow one to fully understand the disease. Thus, the staging strategies I examine create the opportunity to co-research and co-question the experience. In the first case study, The Ephemeral Life of an Octopus (2019) by Léa Tirabasso, I show how a disease is made visible through something I call “a monstrosity of cancer cells.” I describe how a specific approach to the rehearsal process in the form of research led a choreographer with dancers to an active deconstruction of the habitual movement which embodies the “monstrosity of cancer cells.” I also propose the term “machinistic hum” which helps me to define the atmosphere of a factory where the body seems to be depicted as a broken detail of a huge machinery. In the second case study, Bent out of shape (2019) by Suzie Davies and Mattias Ekholm, I unite choreographic and scenographical decisions under the term “laboratorium,” a place where the body is an object for self-research and dissection. I show how the place of a dance piece allows a practice of dissection to stop “muting” the object of the research by giving it “voice.” With readings from Olivier Bert, I move to the third case study, Only Mine Alone (2016) by artistic duo Ana Dubljević and Igor Koruga and show how labour market and consumption culture act as main constituent elements of the assemblage of disease in the third case. I refer again to “machinistic hum,” but now I analyse how dramaturgical and choreographic choices lead to the visibility of a depression.
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