Performance Studies: Dissecting moments of tension and release in flamenco dance / Liveness, documentation and performance-making
“I feel the music, I feel the beat, and I just go”: Dissecting moments of tension and release in flamenco dance
Musicologist Leonard Meyer highlighted in his book ‘Emotion and Meaning in Music’ (1961), the importance of expectation in our experience of music. He argued that musicians craft an emotional experience by playing with and satisfying our expectations as listeners and responders. I would argue that dancers do the same, with or without music, they can build anticipation and show release through their bodies and movement. Of course, when music and movement come together these experiences are heightened. In this presentation I will share segments from a chapter in my thesis that focuses on built-in features of flamenco dance that create moments of tension and release for both performers and audience members. I will share my experience of learning and practising a ‘remate’ in a Bulerias de Cadiz and will dissect the moment both verbally and physically, identifying what it is that makes it so satisfying. While it proved difficult to get detailed accounts of such experiences from the flamenco dancers I interviewed for this project, many shared moments that gave them great pleasure, some of which hint at these moments of tension and release. Finally, I will look at literature that stresses the importance of the body and movement in our experience of music and that support my hypothesis that it is these moments that offer flamenco dancers an emotional outlet.
Lillian Shaddick is a second year PhD student at the University of Sydney in the Theatre and Performance Studies Department where she also completed her Bachelors in Sociology and Performance Studies and her Master of Arts by research degree. While she is currently investigating flamenco dance, she has also published on the commercialisation and appropriation of Brazilian samba no pé in Australia, which was the topic of her master’s research. Lillian is a member of the PoP Moves (Performance of the Popular) Australasia research group and practices a range of dance styles both professionally and leisurely.
Liveness, documentation and performance-making
Performance is an exchange between the artist and the witness mediated by the event, in which the spectator is complicit. The documenter is a key player in the preservation and future representation of the work. But how is documentation received and how different is it in its impact and its affect compared to an experience of the same live performance or original action? So here I am interested in the potency of presence as well as in the value we place on on liveness. In this talk I will discuss documentation, especially the capture of one-off actions and how the audience and social media are involved. I examine some of the purposes that documentation serves, both to the artist and to audiences. In August I wrote a short essay for Articulate Project Space for the exhibition per.doc, a tenth anniversary ‘show ‘ about documentation of performances which had taken place in that venue, and also presented an online artists’ talk. Based on these two texts I will elaborate on the purposes of documentation and on the discussion about liveness and live witnessing in a period when most of us are experiencing exhibitions, performances and meetings online.
Alan Schacher is a performance creator and artist working at the intersection of dance, installation, theatre and architecture. His works address the essence of site, employing materials that perform in relation to and with the body. He provokes through juxtapositions and contradictions, examining the role the built environment plays in framing human activity. Driven by his post-Holocaust legacy, he proposes diaspora as a contemporary condition that calls to question any possibility of home-land. His works evoke imaginary histories and rituals for place and time. He was the founding member of Sydney’s Gravity Feed Performance Ensemble (1992-2004) and Gravity Research Institute(G.R.I.) (2000-2019) for both of which, working collaboratively, he co-devised, designed and performed in both smaller and large-scale works, the more recent of which incorporated large scale video backdrops. He currently performs mostly in soloperformance art works, or in duet form working with his partner WeiZen Ho. Since 2005 he has participated in performance art events & festivals in Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, China and India. During the 2020 Covid-19 environment he created two new short video works.
He holds an MFA from UNSW College of Fine Art.
Though not associated with The University of Sydney, in 2008 through G.R.I., he undertook an ensemble residency at The Rex Cramphorn Studio to develop The Bland Project. He also performed a solo work for the Department of Performance Studies at the conference Bleedlines, The Limits of Performance at The Old Darlington School, back in 1993.
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