Breaking up is hard to do.

By Robert Tyree // Photo: G. WilsonShantala Shivalingappa- Namasya 9-9-11 Lincoln Hall PICA TBA 2011 photo by GKW (213)

Here’s a couple audience tools I picked up at ImPulzTanz last month. I found them very helpful while watching Shantala Shivalingappa’s performance of Namasya.

– What does this performance produce?

– In what ways is this performance productive?

(Trajal Harrell)

 – As I watch this performance, is my primary experience one of self-identification?

– Does this performance compliment how I like to think of myself?

(Mårten Spångberg)

Mårtan calls these “nice girlfriend” performances and contrasts them to performances that are more problematic affairs – those which force a transformation upon you that you’re helpless to resist. A nice date or a whole new world? Stable and situated or altered and disoriented?

This beautiful dancing in Namasya, what did it produce in me? It produced a sensation of satiated pleasantry that always manages to alarm me. What is productive in this performance? Countless hours of training and exquisite skill as a performer employed to create a sense of control, order, composition, intention, clarity.

Why am I alarmed? Do I care that this image of control and beauty inevitably owes much of its productive efficacy to a long history of political, religious and cultural authorities who commissioned dance that represents and reinforces the social order they depend on to maintain a position of power?

I FEEL OPULENT! Like royalty enjoying grapes, discerning the finer subtleties of this marvelous performance. I consume the experience of myself as a heightened and brilliantly calibrated perceiver. I recognize everything, and I know myself in this recognition. I am acing this test!

OK, I don’t feel responsible. I can’t suspend my disbelief on this one. I just saw some creepy thing with crazy eyes that said “The inability to tolerate ambiguity is a sign of an authoritarian personality.” (Occupation/Preoccupation)

I want to fall in love with you, but I can’t! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry! I like you so much as a person. I admire you so much. But I hate faking this. It’s not. I just can’t do this anymore.

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