Academic journal article Ethnologies

Seeing and Experiencing Chouinard: The Body Language of the Spectator

Academic journal article Ethnologies

Seeing and Experiencing Chouinard: The Body Language of the Spectator

Article excerpt

Cet article emprunte le concept de chora, cher a Julia Kristeva, pour decrire et analyser le corps du danseur ainsi que le corps du spectateur. Dans La revolution du language poetique, Kristeva postule que la chora est analogue aux rythmes kinesiques et vocaux du corps. En tant que spectatrice et que danseuse confirmee, je trouve que mon corps reagit instantanement et rythmiquement aux spectacles de danse, etablissant ainsi un lien avec la chora. En consequence, l'acte d'ecrire devient la manifestation physique de l'experience theatrale. Dans mes recherches, je m'interroge a savoir quel role le corps joue-t-il dans la transmission de la danse au langage ? Comment l'essence de la chora est-elle transmise du danseur au spectateur de la performance ? Les ecrits de Julia Kristeva, Roland Barthes et John Martin apportent des bases theoriques importantes pour l'etude du corps qui permettent de repondre a ces questions. Ayant conscience que dans chaque sujet se trouve une chora, j'examine le transfert de la chora du danseur au spectateur dans l'oeuvre de la choregraphe montrealaise Marie Chouinard et, plus specifiquement, au travers du danseur solo dans Des feux dans la nuit. Marie Chouinard est une des choregraphes contemporaines parmi les plus reconnues au Canda et internationalement. Cet article examine l'impact du corps qui danse sur le spectateur.

This article employs Julia Kristeva's concept of the chora as a means to describe and analyze the dancing body and the body of the spectator. In Revolution in Poetic Language, Kristeva posits the chora as analogous to vocal and kinetic rhythms of the body. As an audience member who also trained as a dancer, I find my body responds instantaneously and rhythmically to dance performances, thereby connecting to the chora. Subsequently, the act of writing becomes a physical manifestation of the theatrical experience. My research questions include: what role does the body play in the transmission of dance to language? How is the essence of the chora transferred from dancer to spectator in the experience of watching a performance? The writings of Julia Kristeva, Roland Barthes and John Martin provide important theories of the body that aid in answering these research questions. With an awareness of the chora in each subject, I examine the transfer of the chora from the dancer to the spectator in the work of Montreal choreographer Marie Chouinard, specifically the male solo Des feux dans la nuit. Marie Chouinard stands out as one of Canada's most successful and internationally recognized contemporary choreographers. This article considers the impact of Chouinard's dancing body on the spectator.

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Julia Kristeva's semiotic chora (1) is difficult to define but is most analogous to the vocal and kinetic rhythms of the body. Kristeva's theory, from Revolution in Poetic Language, centres on the concept of the semiotic as it interacts with the symbolic as realized through language. The symbolic represents the relationship between the signifier (the word) and the signified (the item being represented by the word) and is associated with paternal laws in linguistics. The semiotic is based on the influence of the bodily (Freudian) drives, (2) transferred from mother to the child, on the formation of language. Everyone has these preoperational drives (that originate in the body) before the acquisition of language and these drives underpin all action and choice. At the heart of the semiotic is the chora, a term she borrows from Plato. The chora is the place where the subject is both generated and negated. The chora is that which cannot be signified; it is intangible yet constantly present in the body. Kristeva developed her theory about the chora in order to examine the linguistic nuances of poetry. However, the rhythmic energy of the chora has applications in other art forms as well. For example, complex vocal and kinetic rhythms are at the heart of dance, particularly contemporary dance where the rhythm produced by the dancing body is often the only score in the performance. …

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