British Dance and the African Diasporas, the Discourses of Theatrical Dance and the Art of Choreography: 1985 to 2005
The aim of this thesis is to devise a theoretical approach to writing histories of theatrical dance, which draws on African and Diaspora forms. Most choreographers who work with these forms in Britain are usually of African or Caribbean descent and are racially black. I call the theoretical approach the choreosteme. I use the theoretical approach to historicise some of the developments that take place in dance as an industry in Britain and I design it to address issues of discourse, representation and cultural politics. My interest is in investigating the historical debates about the definition about the work of black choreographers in Britain especially those who draw on African and Diaspora forms. The choreosteme is based on social constructionism, Michel Foucault’s notion of the episteme, Brenda Dixon Gottschild’s conception of African aesthetics and the analytic tool called the chronotope, which I have borrowed from Mikhail Bakhtin. I devise the theoretical approach in chapters 2 and 3 and I write five micro-histories about dance artists using this approach in chapters 4 to 8. In chapter 4, I discuss the construction of the Black dance/African Peoples’ Dance sector in 1993 following the debates about the nature of black dance in Britain. In chapter 5, I will look at the various means by which dance artists and managers tried to generate a critical discourse for their work and explain how the dominant discourses emanating from larger organisations rendered much of their work invisible. In chapter 6, I write about dance artists who were based in London and working as dancers and teachers (amongst other things) between 1994 and 2005. I discuss how they developed their dance practices through research and formal study at a time there was little formal training for the kind of practices they were interested in. They are Hopal Romans, Paradigmz, Ukachi Akalawu, Sheba Montserrat and Diane Alison-Mitchell. Chapter 7 is about two choreographers: Sheron Wray and Robert Hylton. I also discuss and analyse the idea of choreographic fusion in this chapter. Choreographer Beverley Glean is the focus of chapter 8. The chapter 9 is the conclusion.
- PhD