I have previously spoken briefly about transgressive behavior in relation to performance and femininity, so today I will discuss this subject in relation to agency within the solo and collaborative creative process and performance. As I write, I have in mind a process that results in product, where “theatre is a frame (game) constructed so that people can look at other people” (Etchells, 2004), i.e. – the audience looking at the performer, whilst also acknowledging that performance is not complete without the presence of an audience. I aim to keep this brief offering one key point across both scenarios.


As you will have read in previous blogs, I have discussed subjectivity in performance a lot. I see it as a place for complete self-expression, understanding and reflection. However, as Cvejic (2015) expresses, solo performers must, at times, interiorize emotion in order to complete the artistic process. What this means is that, even though the solo performer maintains a tremendous amount of control over the practice, the gaze of audience must be taken in to account when showing the product. E.g., the audience cannot see the work for what it was intended to be if the solo performer lets their current state interfere with and override the intended atmosphere of the work. Let me expand, if a performer was having a really shit day or she has had a massive change in thinking since the original conception of the work, she still has to present the work as if nothing has happened. This presents a difficulty for the performer / choreographer whereby a complexity of subjectivity and self- objectification occurs. On one hand, there is a want and need to reject objectifying behavior by choosing solo work as a format for expression, but there is also a need to convey an idea or a message to an audience in an effective way.  With this in mind, I see the most potent deviation of the solo performer is to maintain inherent control over the entire process whilst taking a risk that allows current state of feeling and knowledge to remain present (not something I have mastered in the slightest, but it is worth thinking about). Oh, and not giving too much attention to audience perception of work in its original state, but thinking about how current feelings about work when sprinkled into the way you perform the way, can enhance the way the message is percieved.


To encapsulate a spectrum of agency within a collaborative choreographic process, where movement is to remain organic, raw and intentional, the director must not be protective over their ownership of the work, and instead, encourage creativity from each angle. Their role switches from one perspective, to the amount of performers in the space. Each person can offer a unique lens with a different body of experience. This can only enrich the process, not take away from what was originally intended. However, to acknowledge the texture and physicality of each person individually, without a set agenda, it could potentially transgress against the nature of contemporary dance (which, is essentially a deviation from traditional dance anyway). Take Xavier Le Roy, for instance, he allows any form of expression to emerge during his process and is thus not restricted to “contemporary dance”, even though what his work has to offer is firmly situated in movement and choreographic practice. The process, in a sense, is the work. A deviation in collaborative process then is quite simple and similar to the solo process, and that is to, treat each body as a body of knowledge that can be used as stimulation for the work. As Fraleigh (2000) puts forward, the experience of dance in its process and production should be drawn from the voice of the dancer and the choreographer. So, again, the choreographers and performers should not worry about audience response as they will recieve and relate either way.

Other examples of transgressive behavior in choreography can be repetitive use of stillness, extreme slow dynamic, lack of transition, not offering audience insight into the work; no program notes, no name of work or performer, or, if we shift to sexual deviancy, dance with a pole, dance in an erotically suggestive way, or finally, two women could dance together to resist or to make fun of an aesthetic that has been branded as soft pornography.

I will discuss more about audiences on the next blog, but in the meantime, you can see my daily updates by following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook

Rowena x