As regular readers will know, I’m keenly interested in the intersections between performance works and the critique of military violence – using performance not only as a way of engaging audiences and creating publics but also as an intrinsic part of the research process itself.
Much of my own work has focussed on theatre, and I’ve commented on the multiple meanings of ‘theatre of war’ on several occasions (see here, here and here, though I know there’s much more to say about that).
But I’ve also drawn attention to the role of dance – notably Rosie Kay‘s collaborative project with visual artist David Cotterrell, 5 Soldiers: The Body is the Frontline (see my post on ‘Bodies on the line‘ here; more on the production here and here).
All of which will explain my interest in this new collection of essays (which includes a contribution from Rosie Kay), Choreographies of 21st Century Wars, edited by Gay Morris and Jens Richard Giersdorf:
Wars in this century are radically different from the major conflicts of the 20th century–more amorphous, asymmetrical, globally connected, and unending. Choreographies of 21st Century Wars is the first book to analyze the interface between choreography and wars in this century, a pertinent inquiry since choreography has long been linked to war and military training. The book draws on recent political theory that posits shifts in the kinds of wars occurring since the First and Second World Wars and the Cold War, all of which were wars between major world powers. Given the dominance of today’s more indeterminate, asymmetrical, less decisive wars, we ask if choreography, as an organizing structure and knowledge system, might not also need revision in order to reflect on, and intercede in, a globalized world of continuous warfare. In an introduction and sixteen chapters, authors from a number of disciplines investigate how choreography and war in this century impinge on each other. Choreographers write of how they have related to contemporary war in specific works, while other contributors investigate the interconnections between war and choreography through theatrical works, dances, military rituals and drills, the choreography of video war games and television shows. Issues investigated include torture and terror, the status of war refugees, concerns surrounding fighting and peacekeeping soldiers, national identity tied to military training, and more. The anthology is of interest to scholars in dance, performance, theater, and cultural studies, as well as the social sciences.
Here is the Contents list:
Introduction: Contemporary Choreographies of Wars, Gay Morris and Jens Richard Giersdorf
Chapter 1: Access Denied and Sumud: Making a Dance of Asymmetric Warfare, Nicholas Rowe
Chapter 2: Questioning the Truth: Rachid Ouramdane’s Investigation of Torture in Des Témoins Ordinaires/Ordinary Witnesses, Alessandra Nicifero
Chapter 3: “There’s a Soldier in All of Us”: Choreographing Virtual Recruitment, Derek A. Burrill
Chapter 4: African Refugees Asunder in South Africa: Performing the Fallout of Violence in Every Day, Every Year, I am Walking, Sarah Davies Cordova
Chapter 5: From Temple to Battlefield: Bharata Natyam in the Sri Lankan Civil War, Janet O’Shea
Chapter 6: Choreographing Masculinity in Contemporary Israeli Culture, Yehuda Sharim
Chapter 7: Affective Temporalities: Dance, Media, and the War on Terror, Harmony Bench
Chapter 8: Specter of War, Spectacle of Peace: The Lowering of Flag Ceremony at Wagah and Hussainiwala Borders, Neelima Jeychandran
Chapter 9: A Choreographer’s Statement, Bill T. Jones
Chapter 10: Dancing in the Spring: Dance, Hegemony and Change, Rosemary Martin
Chapter 11: War and P.E.A.C.E, Maaike Bleeker & Janez Janša
Chapter 12: The Body is the Frontline, Rosie Kay and Dee Reynolds
Chapter 13: Geo-Choreography and Necropolitics: Faustin Linyekula’s Studios Kabako, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ariel Osterweis
Chapter 14: Re: moving bodies in the Mexico-USA drug, border, cold, and terror wars, Ruth Hellier-Tinoco
Chapter 15: After Cranach: War, Representation and the Body in William Forsythe’s Three Atmospheric Studies, Gerald Siegmund
Chapter 16: The Role of Choreography in Civil Society under Siege: William Forsythe’s Three Atmospheric Studies, Mark Franko
There’s obviously a lot more to say about choreographing war too…