[dance-tech] performatic and beyond__transcultural

  • From: "Jaime del Val" <jaimedelval@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 11 Apr 2008 19:16:36 +0200

Hi all,

I go on with the answers. (more to follow)

Johannes, I surely miss some of the uses of the terms performative and
performatic, but since I think one of the significant foundational uses of
performative is in performativity theory of language that I was mentioning,
I think it is important to clarify the distinctions, since to me
performativity theory, eventhough it is a very useful tool to understand
certain dynamics of language and power is possibly not applicable outside
the domain of verbal language, like in dance, unless we reduce dance to the
paradigms with which we analyse verbal language, which I think is not a good

Performatics is a term I see as more devoid of specific philosophical and
political intention and more open to define the praxis of performance in
diverse of its inceptions.

Now if performativity is not enough to understand the nonverbal processes of
dance, music  and other embodied forms of thinking and practice, I have
approached the issue through what I call metaformativity, and which attempts
to define a paradigm in which all the issues mentioned here are addressed,
around  <<generative and self-deforming...change over time... enfleshed
meaning-making and understanding. And so, perhaps, that change, that
performance, that transformation is actually more essential for, at the core
of, the "thing," than the performative utterances that name its parts (or
activities). ... engage with the embodied feedback loops between our
presupposed understandings of such categories. >> (Nathaniel)

It is true I think that performativity deals more with the permutation of
existing (language) structures, and has little room for the emergence of new
forms. This will always be the case if we start with language in the first
place. If we on the contrary see language as an effect and sedimentation of
nonverbal improvisations of the bodies we can start to understand the
complex interactions of forces, of improvisations and sedimented forms, in
the many levels of what we call non-verbal communication, in other levels of
experience and consciousness, and in the unthinkable itself. This complex
feedback, reflexivity, interrelation of forces is what I call a
metaformative process. It dosen't exclude performativity, it rather includes
it, but it exceeds it as well. It is a process in which the very structures
thorugh which we "articulate" and "understand" emerge together with the
realities we attempt to apprehend: it is the movement of thought itself, the
self, that emerges in the process.

Now we can understand this in the context of such theories of mirror
neurons, enactive cognition and proprioception, perhaps, since everytime I
see a movement of yours, I mirror it and embody it, and then it has become
something else, If I attempt to reproduce it I cannot but  generate
something different, in the specificity of this body, your gesture is
transduced to my field of forces, my register of associations, my open
coordinates of interaction. The mirrorings that constitute embodiment have
always fragmentary and deforming effects in the forces that are reflected.

I hope to get back more extensively on a definition of metaformativity.

i'm not sure I responded the question...

As for your other comment, indeed we engage in little transcultural
exchange, and dance-tech as we usually work with it here is a rather western
context, I guess. If we start to listen carefully to the different uses of
language amongst "western" colleagues and contexts, we will be all the more
prepared to undergo the far more complex quest of opening the ears to the
transcultural... Maybe the concepts used in the far east don't reach us
because some of our eatern colleagues don't see us prepared to hear  them
without prejudgements from the "high academy"... do we have to make a move
to show that we are open to hear what divergencies of meaning eastern
concepts are producing with regard to western, without a trial and at the
same time without intending that it's all the same: paying attention to the
smallest dissonances with our major chord, and celebrating them?

(I am assuming a we and a them, none of which I am too certain anyway... who
is we, who is them? Am I reproducing the divide?)


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Johannes Birringer" <Johannes.Birringer@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <dance-tech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 9:11 PM
Subject: [dance-tech] Re: Thread1:

Jaime --- after reading some your propositions, can you say a bit more about
how you understand the notion of the < performatic > in the context of our
discussions on the post-choreographic ?

(also in context of Nathaniel's recent remarks:

>>But one of the most fascinating things the study of structuralism, and for
that matter the body, has taught me personally is that these things are not
only performative, but also generative and self-deforming. They change over
time, through per-formance, through their poststructure, through enfleshed
meaning-making and understanding. And so, perhaps, that change, that
performance, that transformation is actually more essential for, at the core
of, the "thing," than the performative utterances that name its parts (or
activities). Perhaps the being-with of change, the interrogation, the
process itself, is a pre-condition (or at least co-condition) for structure.
In this case it may be vital to, sometimes (but certainly not always),
ignore structure and instead engage with the embodied feedback loops between
our presupposed understandings of such categories. >>

very well, then, this is about what I had in mind when i wote of "structure
as outcome" as few weeks ago, in the very performative sense that is being
addressed here by all of us.

(Jaime, you seem to have strong thoughts on where "performativities" might
have originally been discussed, in the arena of queer theory and gender
troubling writing/philosophy  - but you surely also saw the notion of the
performative wander around a bit, and "Performanz"  has been a firmly
established theoretical concept now in the continental performance studies
in Germany and also the postdramatic theatre field. (I will repost a posting
by Heide Lazarus on this issue, which is very interesting from a historical
and conceptual point of view, and unfortunately was not receiving enough
attention here, and i am not sure that her reference to the german speaking
reception of the performative are widely known in other parts of the world,
e.g. the publications by Erika Fischer-Lichte, Gabriele Brandstetter, but
also Martina Leeker, Sibylle Krämer.......)

"performatics" will soon be a featured topic also in a british performance
journal, and PR took their feature theme of "Performatik" from a discussion
that went on for a while in Poland, where theatre practitioners and scholars
got together to explore PERFORMATYKA  *(see at bottom).

 again, if we were to ask now how the receptions of these terrms work in
India or Brasil or Japan, or what terms might have travel to us from there
(how come we don;t use more concepts from the japanese and indian dance
technologies contexts?), we'd be in midst of the transcultural dynamics that
was addressed by the posts on our languages
 & taxonomies.

Johannes Birringer

Jaime wrote:

And this is also the framework in which I use the term POSTCOREOGRAPHY
myself in relation to my own work: Firstly, when you coreograph a posthuman
body, or when in the context of new media you work with nearly illegible
bodies, fragmentary, new kinds of bodies that cannot be framed under the
humanist project of which dance is part of (as far as we understand dance in
western traditions, for there can be no general concept for dance), then we
can speak of postcoreography. Secondly in a transdisciplinary, transmedia
context, where the écriture of coreography is being developed in between, in
a frontier zone of feedbacks with the musical, visual and other forms of
écriture in which novel forms of proprioception and cross-modal perception
may be enacted, then we are transgressing the frontiers of the discipline of
coreography, and indeed the established territories and anatomies of the
body in a deeper sense.

In this respect I also speak of post-visual, post-musical and

I am using the terms in the context of my work Microdances_Antibodies of
Surveillance. pictures, videos and texts online here (we are completing the
information and will soon launch it)
http://www.reverso.org/Morf4_MICRODANAS-PERF.htm --- but the theoretical
frameworks are not to be understood as ground for, nor as based upon, the
work, they emerge in feedback and constitute independent fields, what other
modes of thinking regarding the work there may be I do not know.

So all these branches relate in different ways within the field of collapse
of the contingent structures of our cultural traditions, knowledges, social
structures and power, and we can work in between to create novel zones,
bodies and architectures for new kinds of post-subjectivity.


In December 2006 the Grotowski Centre (now the Grotowski Institute) in
Wroclaw, Poland in collaboration with Tomasz Kubikowski from the Warsaw
Theatre Academy, hosted an international conference entitled in English
'Performance Studies: and Beyond'.  The event marked the translation into
Polish and publication of Richard Schechner's textbook Performance Studies:
An Introduction but the conference hosts and conveners were keen to think
beyond the NYU school of Performance Studies and seek relevance and
application for the term (and field) within an advanced and sophisticated
mode of theatre studies in Poland.

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