Traditional Dance Forms in Dialogue: Performance-Lecture as Intercultural and Critical Performance Practice in the Nation-State

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The performance-lecture or the lecture-performance as a mode of artistic presentation is gaining in currency. In the field of dance, this mode of presentation saw prominence through French choreographer, Jérôme Bel, who has adopted this mode of performance, “exposing systematic structures in the dance industry, more directly than he has found possible through movements of the body alone” (Milder 13-14).

This paper aims to demonstrate how the Performance-Lecture as a presentation mode provides an opportunity for intercultural and interdisciplinary dialogue. The author argues that this mode of performance brings to the fore critical discourse on dance forms that have been influenced by nation-building agendas, arts policies and transnational trends. In addition via the performance lecture, stereotypical ideas of the “traditional” dance artist is subverted, providing him/her agency and empowerment to articulate perspectives.

Reflecting upon his recent experience, the author provides his recent performance-lecture, a collaboration with another dance researcher-practitioner, as a case study. As young dance scholars in the field of Malay and Chinese dance respectively, they have observed that the practitioners of their “traditional” dance forms, have not been in dialogue with each other since the foundational years of Singapore as a nation-state in 1965. Acknowledging this lack of artistic and intellectual conversations, the performance-lecture entitled, “Intersections: Traditionally Speaking” (March 2018) allowed them to investigate, question, critique and collaborate.

As Art critic Patricia Milder affirms, “the best lecture-performances always seem to originate from artists who believe that teaching itself is a central component of their artwork” (13). This is true for the collaborators who are also dance educators with reasonable insider experiences to their respective “art worlds” (Becker et al): well-informed of the common pedagogy employed, therefore providing intercultural perspectives which are equally engaging and nuanced.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 15 Jul 2019

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