Shifting spaces in the 'new South Africa' : site-specific performance as an intercultural exploration of sites, using as examples Jay Pather's Cityscapes, Durban (2002) and Home, Durban (2003)
Craighead, Clare Leslie.
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This dissertation aims to investigate an extended notion of site within site-specific dance theatre. Using multiple theoretical frameworks, which include second wave feminism and its recognition of the body as a site of/for struggle (Goldberg, 1987) in conjunction with site-specific performance theory (Kaye, 2000; Kwon, 2004), Foucault's (1979) notion of 'biopower' and cultural studies, this dissertation seeks to engage site-specific dance theatre as a mode of social and cultural production. Multiculturalism (Schechner, 1988/1991) and interculturalism (Bharucha, 1996; Schechner, 1991) in performance theory and practice, are also engaged to solidify debates around performance as instances of cultural production. These frameworks are engaged in relation to the contemporary production of site-specific dance theatre in Durban, South Africa. Local dance practitioner and academic Jay Pather's site-specific/installation works CityScapes, Durban (2002) and Home, Durban (2003) are used as case-studies for interrogation and investigation in relation to the chosen theoretical discourses. CityScapes and Home provide two instances of site-specific dance theatre that have emerged from within post-apartheid South Africa. The two works are engaged in close relation to the post-apartheid South African context, and its promotion of a 'rainbow nation' in the 'New South Africa'. CityScapes provides a platform to engage ideas of access to and ownership of dance forms and the spaces which they occupy - prompting critical questioning around the impact of South Africa's historical segregations and their influence upon contemporary (South African) society/societies. Similarly, Home provides a platform to engage notions of 'homespaces' as these relate to access to and ownership of private and public spaces, and how this impacts cultural inter(re)actions in post-apartheid South Africa. Both case-studies provide instances of critical performance practice, which allows for meaningful theoretical inter(re)action in relation to the two chosen performance works. In this light, this dissertation also provides an instance of much needed academic enquiry into the local, South African contemporary dance-scape.