danceworkbook: Susan Foster! Susan Foster! Three Performed Lectures

danceworkbook: Susan Foster! Susan Foster! Three Performed Lectures

Susan Foster. Photo from the “Susan Foster! Susan Foster! Three Performed Lectures” danceworkbook, courtesy of Jorge Cousineau.

Danceworkbook, a series produced by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, documents the creative practice of living and working with dance.

“What if the ballerina could own up to her own monstrous identity?” —Susan Foster

In the third iteration of danceworkbook, Susan Foster! Susan Foster! Three Performed Lectures, Dr. Linda Caruso Haviland introduces three performed lectures by Dr. Susan Leigh Foster, presented at the Live Arts Studio in Philadelphia in 2011.

When Foster performs her lectures, she hurls herself around the auditorium, climbs over seats, attacks the podium. She explores the dancing body and the nature of movement by performing the topic she lectures about. After all, how can you truly communicate about the nature of performance without performing?

1/2: Susan Foster. Photo from the “Susan Foster! Susan Foster! Three Performed Lectures” danceworkbook, courtesy of Jorge Cousineau.
2/2: Susan Foster. Photo from the “Susan Foster! Susan Foster! Three Performed Lectures” danceworkbook, courtesy of Jorge Cousineau.

In her introduction to the danceworkbook, “Reading the Bodily Writing of Dance,” Dr. Linda Caruso Haviland writes, “The notion or act of ‘performing’ a ‘lecture’ already violates a rather neat dichotomy—isn’t a lecture generally somewhat bodily constrained so that nothing detracts from the value of the spoken text? Contrarily, Foster’s ‘performed lectures’ kick huge holes through this divide: they are clearly more than lectures in which gestures simply exceed an acceptable quota in number or propriety, but neither do they function as full dance works that integrate text as a primary choreographic element. These are lectures, first and foremost, with all the complex content and trajectory of a ‘normal’ academic lecture, but delivered by a bodied speaker who refuses to hold still, who is neither hemmed in by academic etiquette nor careful to avoid the inevitable, everyday human gesture that could distract from the all-important delivery of the sacrosanct text and its self-contained meaning.”

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