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Falling Apart at the Seams

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  • Nx Arts In General
  • Musicology


The research imperative is to explore the use of irony, parody and humour in interrogating the ageing process on an individual performer’s embodied forms. Research questions include: 1) How can the medium of comedy be fruitful in changing audience and individual perceptions of older performers? 2) How do older performers renegotiate long-standing embodied forms and inflexible techniques? 3) Can the use of irony, parody and comedy help to reclaim performing spaces for ageing performances? Whilst much empirical research has been undertaken to evaluate the renegotiation of the physical self within a sporting context, this piece explores how ageing impacts on dancers who work in an arena where elite levels of physicality and athleticism are typically expected. This complements existing work in this field by ‘No Spring Chicken Company’; Bausch’s 2010 ‘Kontakthof’ reworked for mature movers, and David Hoyle’s recent ‘100 Years of Hell’. Funding sources include Arts Council England and Edge Hill University. This project consisted of a rehearsal laboratory over a number of weeks culminating in performances for two dancers and an octogenarian former music hall artist. Falling Apart at the Seams was developed over a series of work-in-progress sharings (2006-2007); full version: Arts Forum Festival 2008; Shooting Fish Productions 2008; British Dance Edition 2008. Dissemination of research insights includes a co-authored paper with Dr Helen Newall, “Temporality of the Dancing Body: tears, fears and ageing dears” (Pain Conference, Warsaw 2011) published in Andrzej Dańczak and Nicola Lazenby (eds), Pain: Management, Expression, Interpretation (Inter-Disciplinary Publishers: eBook, 2011); and ‘Not with my body ya don’t! Ageing Performers and the Habitus Turn’, (TaPRA, Glasgow, 2013). Portfolio Contents: Performance DVD; publicity materials; ‘More Hip Op than Hip Hop’, ‘Animated’ (Winter 2011): an anecdotal article addressing interested readers in and beyond the academy; TaPRA (2013) paper.

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