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Title: Performing the surplus, making a spectacle : male street dance crews on television talent shows
Author: Robinson, Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 6778
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2016
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Since 2008, male Street dance crew performances on U.K. television have burgeoned in popularity due to their displays of athleticism and synchronicity. Despite growth in popular dance scholarship, however, this phenomenon has been overlooked, in accord with the dismissal of spectacle as decorative and superficial. This thesis addresses this absence by presenting a critical investigation into the construction and performance of spectacle by male Street dance crew performances on U.K. talent show competitions. It explores the key concepts that shape the notion of spectacle in relation to televised popular dance, and enquires into how crews manifest these in their performances. It also addresses the extent to which these performers have any agency to resist their status as spectacular. Drawing upon a screen dance analysis and utilising theoretical perspectives from late capitalism and visual theory, this thesis focuses on 58 performances from Britain’s Got Talent and Got to Dance. Analysis revealed that choreographic and cinematic strategies of virtuosity and excess results in the construction of ‘the surplus’, which in itself aligns with post-Fordist labour practices and spectacle as a condition of commodified society. Crews perform the surplus through their transgression of corporeal boundaries and by performing excess labour in order to register within the media spectacle of reality television. This is expressed through the structure and content of their cinematically edited choreography, their performance of cultural identity and the relationship between technology and the body. By performing the surplus, crews are reduced to consumable images through the erasure of their histories, labour systems, and the displacement of the human. Dancers challenge this representation, however, through emphasis on choreographic themes and televised rhetorics of physical effort, brotherhood, and human emotion. It is, therefore, the thematic material and the fleshy humanity of the dancer that both registers and resists these performances as spectacular.
Supervisor: Carter, Alexandra ; Honess Roe, Annabelle Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available