Tandem Dances with Julia M. Ritter
November 16th 2020, 12:30-2:30 EST
Tandem Dances: Choreographing Immersive Performance with Julia Ritter
In this working group, we celebrated the publication of Julia Ritter's new book Tandem Dances: Choreographing Immersive Performance. The book proposes that choreography is critical to immersive productions in that it serves as a crucial mechanism by which the spectator's role is transformed into that of an active participant within the production, namely, a subject of choreography enacting an improvisational score.
Tandem Dances: Choreographing Immersive Performance proposes dance and choreography as frames through which to examine immersive theater. The idea of tandemness - suggesting motion that is achieved by two bodies working together and acting in conjunction with one another - is critical throughout the book. Choreography is positioned as essential to the creation and reception of immersive productions for two distinct yet entwined reasons. First, in the creation of these productions, immersive practitioners devise and structure performance content intended to immerse audiences, often by prioritizing dance over other communicative media due to its potential for kinesthetic dynamism, the different kinds of perception it invites, and the varieties of interpretive analyses it affords. Second, choreography is critical to immersive productions in that it serves as a crucial mechanism by which the spectator's role is transformed into that of an active participant within the production, namely, a subject of choreography enacting an improvisational score. In articulating these two applications of choreography in immersive productions, it is fruitful to understand immersive productions as tandem dances, meaning they function as choreographic events requiring the bodies of both performers and spectators to enact parallel movement scores.
Tandem Dances foregrounds the choreographic, giving voice to prominent choreographers, directors and performers as well as spectators of immersive works in order to examine its specific impact on the evolution of immersive theater while presenting choreography as a discursive problem that is fundamentally related to creative practice, to agendas of power and control, and to concomitant issues of freedom and agency.
Julia M. Ritter, PhD, MFA, is an award-winning dance artist and scholar whose work demonstrates the interdisciplinary integration of over 30 years of training in dance, voice, and theater techniques. We are delighted that she was able to join us for this chat!
She is the recipient of two awards for her research on dance and immersive performance, including the 2016 Selma Jeanne Cohen Lecture Award from the Fund for International Scholarship on Dance (USA), and the 2014 Prix André G. Bourassa Creative Research from Le Société Québécoise D’Etudes Théâtrales (SQET Canada). Her new book Tandem Dances: Choreographing Immersive Performance, is the first book to propose dance and choreography as frames through which to examine immersive theatre, more broadly known as immersive performance. Indicative of a larger renaissance in storytelling during the digital age, immersive performance is influenced by emerging computer technologies, such as virtual reality and advances in video-gaming, as well as increased interest in new forms of experiential entertainment. The idea of tandemness — suggesting motion that is achieved by two bodies working together and acting in conjunction with one another — is critical throughout the book.
Presented over Zoom.