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First day lead by Milan Zvada (SK)

Performance Studies: 
Notions, concepts, metaphors

Performance Studies
-   expanding academic discipline founded in 80s (Turner, Schechner)
broader than Theatre Studies
-  incorporates theories of drama, dance, art, anthropology, folkloristics, philosophy, cultural studies, psychology, sociology, comparative literature, and more
- has a long-standing and complex relationship to the practice of performance art, also known as live art or visual art performance.
- started with the goal of understanding cultures through their performative  practices – what they do and for what purposes
-   the question of language, concepts and cultural translation

Performance Studies
-    performance as being "between theatre and anthropology“, PS often stresses the importance of intercultural performances as an alternative to either traditional proscenium theatre or traditional anthropological fieldwork
-      Speech-act theory (Austin, Butler) - How To Do Things With Words
 To say something is to do something, or in saying something we do something, and even by saying something we do something.” The most illustrative example being "I do," as part of a marriage ceremony.
-      Gorgias of Leontini: “Just as different drugs draw forth different humors from the body – some putting a stop to disease, others to life – so too with words: some cause pain, others joy, some strike fear, some stir the audience to boldness, some benumb and bewitch the soul with evil persuasion”.
-     performative acts  - gender or language - have features structured like a performance

performance 1530s, "carrying out of a promise, duty, etc.," 
from perform + -ance
Meaning "a thing performed" is from 1590s; that of "action of performing a play, etc." is from 1610s; that of "a public entertainment" is from 1709. Performance art is attested from 1971.
perform c.1300, "carry into effect, fulfill, discharge," 
via AngloFr. performir, altered (by influence of O.Fr. forme "form") from O.Fr. parfornir "to do, carry out, finish, accomplish,"  from par- "completely" + fornir "to provide" .
Theatrical/musical sense is from c.1600. Related: Performedperforming.

PERFORMANCE (definition)
Any action that is ‘not-for-the-first time’—that has been learned, rehearsed, and is then ‘twice-behaved,’ or performed. PS scholars claim that any action follows this ‘performative’ paradigm, even those we typically assume are natural or spontaneous (like getting dressed in the morning, or ‘being’ a man). PS scholars study how the behavior is prepared and presented as a means to understand an individual’s or group’s values and organization.

Different notions of THEATRE and PERFORMANCE

Ewan McLaren - our silent witness and honorary proofreader

Evaluation: Performance Studies
-          science of everything and nothing = study of life
-          relativity of genres and performance efficacies
-          missing vocabulary in other languages
-          theatre to be re-invented and re-discovered in context (social and cultural practices of particular community), there are no clear boundaries between Western theatre, European theatre, Oriental theatre etc.
-          calls for new criteria in evaluating artistic genres and practices
-          allows for reconsidering conceptual dichotomies determined by language meaning and use of which is embedded in cultural and social practices
                e.g. theory/practice, body/soul, reality/fiction, life/theatre, West/East, feeling/thought, self/other, life/religion...
-          PS as a discipline that transcends the dichotomies of art and life


-  influence our perception, communication and understanding of the world
-  our inherited conceptual system (embedded in language praxis) plays a central role in defining our everyday realities
-  they have an ontological status and impact, they structure our worldview

Conceptual metaphors - Argument is war, Time is money, Life is journey
"Argument is dance“ quote

"The concepts that govern our thought are not just matters of the intellect. They also govern our everyday functioning, down to the most mundane details. Our concepts structure what we perceive, how we get around in the world, and how we relate to other people. Our conceptual system thus plays a central role in defining our everyday realities. If we are right in suggesting that our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we think, what we experience, and what we do every day is very much a matter of metaphor" (Lakoff-Johnson / Metaphors We Live By).
Metaphor – not only in language but also in thought and action 

The Legacy of the NS

How natya came into being?
prayoga sastra (Skt.) = “theory of praxis” 
                                       = “experimental application of principles” (prescriptive)
- sastra is the knowledge which is based on principles held to be timeless
-  implicit flexibility of the NS (applied elsewhere in India and changeable)

There is no wise maxim, no learning, no art or craft, no action that is not found in drama (Skt. natya).

Dance and its meaning in Hindu thought

“According to Gandharva-Veda, dance originally symbolizes the subtle, rhythmical dynamics of transformations from one note to the other, a manifest expression of unmanifest processes in samhita on which the entire creation is based. Primordial sounds are qualities of consciousness.
Ideally, the performer will automatically, without any time-lapse between impulse and expression, use the gesture, or combination of gestures, that is the manifest equivalent of the quality of consciousness required in a given situation of performance dictated by the contents of performance and the outer conditions of performance: for example, performance space and audience. The inner dynamics of the primordial sound of nada begins to vibrate in every cell, gaining such strength that it finally takes hold of the entire body and causes it to dance. The art of dancing was developed into the art of theatre. The intention of this... was... to enable people who had lost touch with their unmanifest source to gain familiarity with Vedic truths”


  1. Performance Studies - interdisciplinary
  2. Concepts of theatre shape artists intentions and audience expectations
  3. Performance seen in terms of its efficacy – impact on the audience
  4. Writing about performance – using words with impact on perception and understanding
  5. Aesthetic experience requires centrality of performer

       What concepts do we have in mind when we talk or write about performance?
       What’s the role of language and translation?
       What is Contemporary Dance Performance? Where is it rooted? What are the features of aesthetic experience? Where does it draw its vitality from?
       Interdisciplinarity in artistic practice


      c.1300, from O.Fr. dancier (12c., Mod.Fr. danser), of unknown origin, perhaps from Low Frankish *dintjan and akin to O. Fris. dintje "tremble, quiver." A word of uncertain origin but which, through French influence in arts and society, has become the primary word for this activity from Spain to Russia (cf. It. danzare, Sp. danzar, Rum. dansa, Swed. dansa, Ger. tanzen).
      In part the loanword from French is used mainly with reference to fashionable dancing while the older native word persists in use with reference to folk-dancing, as definitively Russ. pljasat' vs. tancovat' [Buck].

„Reality is fantasy that works!“

       “Being is unrecognisable unless it succeeds in seeming, and seeming is weak unless it succeeds in being. (Gorgias of Leontini)
       By accepting Artaud’s idea that “theatre used in the highest and most difficult sense has the power to affect appearance and structure of things”, one can crave for theatre that is deprived of prescribed illusion, prejudice, and isolation.  
       As one can never distinguish dance from its dancer, spectator should never bother about the difference between reality and fiction – because they are both mere “dancing” concepts in experience that is one.



1 comment:

  1. Can anyone describe or refine me the phrase "parenting" in the 1st Performance-diagram? I have a vision, but I'm not sure... And what includes the morning dressing you've mentioned before?
    Kinga (the unfourtunately lost participant)