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CDTPS Colloquium

Fri Feb. 16, 2018 | 3-5pm. Please join us afterwards for refreshments in the Robert Gill Theatre lobby!
Room 313, Seminar Room, 214 College Street

CDTPS Scholars Jeff Gagnon, Christine Mazumdar and Anna Paliy whisk us from the public commons, to the wrestling ring, to the Opera House, inviting us to consider the ways in which the body performing with, within or against the spaces that support and police its kinetic expression, expands and transforms the spaces that contain it.

Moderated by VK Preston

Acts of Reoccupation: Performing Spatial Contestation Through Autogestus  (Jeff Gagnon)

The occupation of contested spaces is a tactic of significant importance to acts of protest. Such spaces may be chosen out of opportunistic pragmatism, necessity, or in recognition of the symbolic value identified with them. Frequently, the act of occupation renders such spaces emblematic of the social struggles that define and are defined by them. Occupation transforms contested space into a site of experimentation,

rehearsal, and performance for alternative ethical and political practices. Proceeding from Bertolt Brecht’s conception of theatrical gestus as a performance technique that foregrounds social relations, I consider the occupation of contested spaces alongside Henri Lefebvre’s notion of autogestion. The resultant autogestus

provides a performative critique of spatial politics and a challenge to the homogenizing influence of what Lefebvre calls the State Mode of Production.

Wrestling with the Real: ‘Kayfabe’ and the Professional Wrestler (Christine Mazumdar )

The professional wrestling company WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) describes itself as “sports entertainment” acknowledging that its wrestlers are both performers and athletes. Pro wrestlers, like actors, are taught to privilege the aesthetic experience of the performance sometimes at the expense of their own well-being. As such, how do performers navigate the challenge of responding to the “real” body amidst a space of performative expectations?  My primary case study examines the practice of “blading” in pro wrestling matches. After taking a pre-determined blow from an opponent, a wrestler hides their face and uses a covertly placed razor blade to make a small cut to their forehead. When they reveal their face to the audience bloodied, it is to appear as if their opponent caused the wound. The blood is very much real, however, pro wrestling manipulates the way the audience reads the gruesome sight. When this [in] between space between the performer and the performance ruptures, the “real” permeates and seeps into the aesthetics of the performance itself, disrupting the conventions and expectations of the audience.

Behind the Satyr’s Smirk: Adapting Mallarmé’s Male Desire to the Stage in Nijinsky’s The Afternoon of a Faun (Anna Paliy)
As an experiment in avant-garde dance by the young Russian ballerino and choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky, the ballet The Afternoon of a Faun (Paris, 1912) uprooted conventional representations of the erotic male body on the classical stage. It did so by curating a male climax in real time using the typically literary devices of blank space, touches successives (or “suggestiveness”), and analepsis (or “simultaneity”) customary of Symbolist poetry. The choreography of this piece introduced an unconventional yet uncanny use of pacing and angle (by favouring the sixth position of the feet, for example), much like its source in Stéphane Mallarmé’s poem of 1876 had baffled the academic tradition of poetic form by doing away with linear narrative using sporadic patterns, verb tenses, and lettering styles so as to evoke the atmosphere of a dream. Using its thematic precedents in music (by Claude Débussy) and poetry (Mallarmé), Nijinsky’s The Afternoon of a Faun constitutes what theorist Gérard Genette calls a palimpsest of word, sound, and motion. In layering media and borrowing literary conventions, Nijinsky perpetuated the Symbolist quest for synaesthesia into the 20th century by creating a multisensory spectacle that would pave the way for immersive, cross-cultural, and queered contemporary ballet to take place in the opera house.

Bios

Presenters

Jeff Gagnon is a doctoral candidate at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies.

Anna Paliy’s three passions — poetry, dance, and translation — are rooted in a childhood spent traveling between Ukraine, Hong-Kong, and France. She completed her BA in Comparative Literature at Western University (2010-2014, London ON) and her MA at the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto (2014-2015). She is currently a first-year PhD student at the CDTPS and a member of the Institute for Dance Studies, where she hopes to combine her passion for language and movement in research on Les Ballets Russes and dissident migrant dancers at the time of the Soviet Revolution.

Christine Mazumdar is a PhD candidate at the CDTPS, focusing on the athlete as performer through the language of movement in aesthetic sport, dance, and circus. A former elite-level rhythmic gymnast and nationally certified coach, Christine considers the interrelationship between sport and art.


Moderator

VK Preston is an Assistant Professor at the CDTPS. She pursues contemporary as well as historical research, writing on the witches’ Sabbath in the early modern Atlantic World, the colonial invasion of the Americas, performance art, early ballets, dis/ability, and choreography. VK is the recipient of an early career fellowship from Australian Research Council’s History of Emotions project and a short term fellowship at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. She has participated in research communities including the seminar on Early Modern Cross-Cultural Conversions at the University of Cambridge, the Sense Lab’s Immediations project in Montreal, the Universität der Künste Berlin’s KlangKunstBühne, and the Mobile Academy in Warsaw. VK is an inaugural member and contributor to the Mellon Dance Studies in/and the Humanities programShe completed her dissertation in Paris as a Stanford research fellow at the École normale supérieure and as an artist-researcher at La Cité internationale des arts.

 

 

 

 


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