My Name is a Blackbird: Dancing Toward a Productive Ontology of Change
|Bond, Karen E.
|The dissertation is a theoretical autobiography weaving personal narrative, reflective practice, and engagement with extant sources, emphasizing somatic innovators and French philosophers Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Rhizomatically structured, the dissertation takes as its locus of content My Name is a Blackbird, an extended choreographic project and series of performances I enacted between 2006 and 2010. Research begun during Blackbird further bled into subsequent years of solo and ensemble dance practice and performance, teaching, and contemplation, and continued to manifest personally and professionally as deepened curiosity about the dance’s abiding questions around the nature of form and identity. These questions motivated doctoral study and sustained throughout the dissertation process. The dissertation intersperses extant theories and somatics with autobiographical narratives depicting stories that pre- and post-date My Name is a Blackbird, and draw heavily from content culled while compiling and reflecting on an extensive document I call the Blackbird Archive, totally over one-thousand pages of material, including layers of quasi-repeated text, and my contemporaneous reflective analysis. I built the Archive during the first two and half years of writing the dissertation from raw materials documenting Blackbird, including transcribed audio from video tapes of rehearsals, conversations and interviews with collaborators, and artist and audience response to performances, plus my personal handwritten and digital journals. Working on and with the Archive prompted me to dig deeper into what was then my existing narrative about Blackbird, which originally foregrounded my discoveries as a dancer and performer of greater freedom of movement and expressive potential, including within the artist-audience exchange, through the release of my superficial abdominals. The dissertation charts a non-linear process through which I discovered that, in addition to this existing narrative of liberation, the Archive and my related memories sparked from the Archive, in conversation especially with Deleuze and Guattari, as well as revisiting and reconsidering my understandings of work by the somatic innovators and theorists, primarily Moshe Feldenkrais and Emilie Conrad, whose writing and methods shaped my practices during Blackbird, the dissertation project revealed that delving into occluded and more painful memories was necessary to tell a more complete story of the project. These memories include looking again at long term struggles with body dysmorphia and disordered eating, and, more so, grappling on the page with the impact of experiences of sexual trauma as a late adolescent and young adult, which shaped coping mechanisms that further informed ingrained movement preferences, bodily comportment, and whole-self orientation to time, effort, body, and form. The dissertation is organized into four parts. Part I introduces the document, Deleuze and Guattari as key conversation partners, and describes what I refer to as my methodological journey. Part II delves into the process and timeline for building the Blackbird Archive and describes the Blackbird project itself, focusing on the role of the concept of transmogrification. Part III explores experiences of time and body in Blackbird and autobiographical narratives that shaped my orientation to dance and performance, and Part IV uses Deleuze and Guattari’s work to articulate my experiences of and fantasies around dissolution of form and shifting identity.
|Temple University. Libraries
|Theses and Dissertations
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|My Name is a Blackbird: Dancing Toward a Productive Ontology of Change
|Levitt, Laura, 1960-
|Haviland, Linda Caruso
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