Lucky me! A friend of mine from NYU is curating a panel at this weekend’s Cultural Studies Associate Conference at Columbia College Chicago and they last minute had a speaker pull out. So, I will be presenting a paper Friday at 2pm.
It is titled Life after Death: The Immortal Body Politic of the Not-for-Profit Dance.
My abstract is below if you are interested. And if you’re around Chicago Friday afternoon, come by and hear this amazing panel curated by Elliot Gordon Mercer. The panel is called Critical Moves: Theories and Politics of Dance. The other papers are: Elliot Gordon Mercer’sReconstructing the Disappearing Dance Archive and John Joseph Trenz’s Jon Chu and theLXD: Empowering Everyday Dance Abilities Through Extra‐Ordinary Discourses.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, both modern dance and ballet have been negotiating the respective threat and promise of institutionalization. Despite its inherent opposition to many early modern dance intentions, institutionalization has offered a more stable way to produce work. The largest and most successful dance institutions in America all share in the same structure, created around and for a singular personality whose name and persona quickly became synonymous with the institution itself. The problem addressed in the following pages is that of the life of these iconic American dance institutions after the passing of their figurehead. When the visionary and sole choreographer dies, what is to become of their institution and all that it entails? Fighting against Peggy Phelan’s ontology of performance, its innate disappearance, the disappearance of the famous face further complicates notions of future and preservation of the past. Survived by his/her company, this unnatural distancing of bodies creates a potent tension between artistic direction, artistic output, preservation of past and a business need for financial solvency. Both the bankruptcy of The Joffrey Ballet and the Martha Graham Company’s copyright struggles in the early 90‘s are in marked contrast to the Merce Cunningham Company’s June 2009 public announcement of a “Living Legacy Plan.” These will serve as historical jumping off points into the abyss of mortality that both defines the artist and continues to haunt the American dance institution.