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Celebrating difference/censoring difference? : Marie Chouinard’s bODY rEMIX

Hadley, Bree J. (2009) Celebrating difference/censoring difference? : Marie Chouinard’s bODY rEMIX. In Silent Voices, Hidden Lives: Performance and Censorship, International Federation of Theatre Research / Federation International de la Recherche Theatrale Conference 2009, 14-18 July 2009, University of Lisbon, Lisbon. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper examines performances that defy established representations of disease, deformity and bodily difference. Historically, the ‘deformed’ body has been cast – onstage and in sideshows – as flawed, an object of pity, or an example of the human capacity to overcome. Such representations define the boundaries of the ‘normal’ body by displaying its Other. They bracket the ‘abnormal’ body off as an example of deviance from the ‘norm’, thus, paradoxically, decreasing the social and symbolic visibility (and agency) of disabled people. Yet, in contemporary theory and culture, these representations are reappropriated – by disabled artists, certainly, but also as what Carrie Sandahl has called a ‘master trope’ for representing a range of bodily differences. In this paper, I investigate this phenomenon. I analyse French Canadian choreographer Marie Chouinard’s bODY rEMIX/gOLDBERG vARIATIONS, in which 10 able-bodied dancers are reborn as bizarre biotechnical mutants via the use of crutches, walkers, ballet shoes and barres as prosthetic pseudo-organs. These bodies defy boundaries, defy expectations, develop new modes of expression, and celebrate bodily difference. The self-inflicted pain dancers experience during training is cast as a ‘disablement’ that is ultimately ‘enabling’. I ask what effect encountering able bodies celebrating ‘dis’ or ‘diff’ ability has on audiences. Do we see the emergence of a once-repressed Other, no longer silenced, censored or negated? Or does using ‘disability’ to express the dancers’ difference and self-determination usurp a ‘trope’ by which disabled people themselves might speak back to the dominant culture, creating further censorship?

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ID Code: 29441
Item Type: Conference Paper
Keywords: Performing Arts, Spectatorship, Disability
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (190404)
Divisions: Current > Schools > Drama
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Past > Institutes > Information Security Institute
Deposited On: 04 Jan 2010 08:11
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2010 02:33

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