University of the Arts School of Dance presents:
Knowing Dance More: Susan Leigh Foster
"Performing Authenticity and the Labor of Dance"
Wednesday, March 26, 2013
Caplan Recital Hall
Susan Leigh Foster presents "Performing Authenticity and the Labor of Dance," a dance lecture that interrogates the body presented in performances of competition dance on television shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance.” Foster looks specifically at how dance serves in these spectacles as guarantor of authenticity and of a rigid set of gendered identities. Invoking neo-Marxist theories of affective labor, she shows how dancers on these programs enact a cycle of alienation and hyper-devotion to the practice of dance, one that replicates the endless drive to consume that marks our contemporary moment. By looking closely at the expressions of surprise, gratitude, and praise for others that the dancers must perform, she also considers how the competition’s protocols reproduce the lack of distinction between motivated and unmotivated relationships that is pervasive in our culture.
Dr. Susan Leigh Foster is a choreographer, dancer and scholar. Her book Reading Dancing: Bodies and Subjects in Contemporary American Dance (1986) was the first to consider the relevance of poststructuralist theory to dance research and received the DeLaTorre Bueno Prize for scholarship in dance. Her second book, Choreography and Narrative: Ballet’s Staging of Story and Desire (1996), is a study of gender and politics in French ballet of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Her third book, Dances that Describe Themselves: The Improvised Choreography of Richard Bull (2003), provides a study of improvisational practices in New York City during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Her most recent book, Choreographing Empathy: Kinesthesia in Performance (2011), examines the connection that viewers make to performers, focusing on the kinesthetic sense of action that is conveyed through dancing. She is also the editor of three anthologies: Choreographing History (1995), Corporealities (1996) and Worlding Dance (2009). With Sue-Ellen Case and Philip Brett, she edited Cruising the Performative: Interventions into the Representation of Ethnicity, Nationality, and Sexuality (1995) and Decomposition: Post-Disciplinary Performance (2000).