Transferring principles: the role of physical consciousness in Butoh and its application within contemporary performance praxis.

Sweeney, Rachel (2009) Transferring principles: the role of physical consciousness in Butoh and its application within contemporary performance praxis. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

This thesis addresses the role of physical consciousness in contemporary performance training praxis, outlining my position as a performance maker involved in a range of dance and theatre training disciplines, with particular recourse to the Japanese contemporary movement expression of Butoh. The term praxis refers to a set of practical aims put forward throughout the writing, as well as referencing an ethos of self governed practice within independent movement training and performance. The arguments posed draw from a personal critical understanding based on different training programs with European and Japanese butoh artists. Through evolving my performance training praxis towards certain choreographic as well as metapractical aims, I seek to challenge the notion of 'performance mastery' - a term which, within a traditional western performance context might imply control, virtuosity and technical discipline - in response to an anti-aesthetical approach to dance, as found in what I argue to be the dysfunctional, non-kinetic body of the butoh dancer. In making explicit the connections between studio practice, anatomical and somatic investigation and outdoor environmental exploration, I examine the role of 'physical consciousness' in butoh as a contemporary movement approach which might shift current established discourses surrounding western theatrical dance training towards an open investigation of movement practice and repertoire through transdisciplinary approaches which interface the languages of ecology, geology and cartography. Physical consciousness refers to an internal dialogue held by the butoh dancer between a range of visual images, or actual experiences gained through direct contact with specific environments, and his or her means of physicalising these images and experiences in movement. Thus, physical consciousness requires the butoh dancer to constantly engage in a double exposure between the internal image, as fed through language, and those external forms presented. The experiential mode of practice is prioritised throughout as the writing seeks to stabilise empiricist notions of practice as contingent on both first hand and collated accounts of perceptual mechanisms, while research methods used here draw on social science practices with the aim of producing an embedded critique of physical consciousness. Within my dance research and production methods, physical consciousness articulates an internal awareness of the body's movement potential which questions the how rather than the why or where of the dancer's movement capabilities, minimising the distance between internal awareness and aesthetic form, between the dancer and the dance

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Research Areas:Theses
School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts
ID Code:6777
Deposited On:16 Dec 2010 08:23
Last Modified:19 Jul 2014 16:18

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