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Title: The dancer's contribution : performing plotless choreography in the leotard ballets of George Balanchine and William Forsythe
Author: Tomic-Vajagic, Tamara
Awarding Body: University of Roehampton
Current Institution: University of Roehampton
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis explores the contributions of dancers in performances of selected roles in the ballet repertoires of George Balanchine and William Forsythe. The research focuses on “leotard ballets”, which are viewed as a distinct sub-genre of plotless dance. The investigation centres on four paradigmatic ballets: Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments (1951/1946) and Agon (1957); Forsythe’s Steptext (1985) and the second detail (1991). It explores how performers across different company cultures perform and conceptualise several solo roles in these works. The research focuses on the dancers from the choreographers’ resident troupes (New York City Ballet, Ballett Frankfurt), and performers in the productions by several international repertory companies. The thesis is structured as a discursive, analytical space that merges two distinct vantage points: that of the spectator and of the performer. Dancers in this thesis, therefore, are not passive subjects, but important contributors and narrators of their individual processes and experiences. The study functions as a meeting place, bringing to light the links between the performer’s ideas and the spectator’s perception of the dance. The methodology integrates ethnographic approaches (observation and qualitative interviews) with movement analysis. The complex influences behind the dancers’ approaches are viewed in relation to their specific cultural contexts and Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of habitus. The examination of the finer details of the performances and dancers’ contributions in set choreography reveals a range of conceptualisations, from abstract to thematic imagery, and from fictional to documentary narratives. The study demonstrates that the dancers’ imprint in the leotard ballets is a complex set of culturally conditioned, embodied qualities and ii actions (both conscious and/or unintended). Together these form a type of individual “agency”, which shapes the look of the role and the overall ballet, particular to a single performance and to specific points in the dancer’s career.
Supervisor: Jordan, Stephanie ; Morris, Geraldine Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available