A feminist postructuralist examination around the utilisation of the body as a contested site of struggle for meaning in contemporary theatre dance in South Africa.
Using a framework of feminism and poststructuralism, this thesis aims to interrogate the utilisation of the body as a contested site of struggle for meaning in contemporary theatre dance in South Africa. "Both feminism, as a politics, and dance, as a cultural practice, share a concern for the body" (Brown, 1983: 198). A feminist analysis of dance can offer a tool to interrogate the dominant discourses of gender and race that surround and permeate both the female and male body in contemporary theatre dance. The body is not a neutral site onto which cultural codes and conventions are inscribed, as the dancer's body is always marked in the physical sense of gender and race. This thesis aims to decode the body and examine how the discourses of gender and race are embodied by the moving body on stage - specifically in the South African (KwaZulu-Natal) context. By a feminist appropriation of the poststructural endeavour, this research will look at how the body, as discourse, can be interrogated to examine how the interconnected discourses of gender and race surround and permeate the moving body. The utilisation of a poststructural paradigm will aid in the examination of how the dominant discourses of gender and race are hegemonically imposed onto the body. Poststructuralism also offers an understanding that there exist counter-discourses that have the ability to resist the dominant discourses of gender and race. This notion becomes important to the study of contemporary theatre dance as an art form. This thesis will examine how South African (Durban-based) contemporary theatre dance choreographers explore the body's potential to be subversive in performance. The thesis will focus on the body's ability to interrogate the discourses that operate in its surroundings and permeate its lived reality.
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