Politicising performances of 'care': dance theatre by and with Australian artists with disability
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 00:24 authored by Kate Myfanwy Maguire-Rosier
In this thesis, I discuss performances of 'care' that materialise in the development and presentation of three professional dance theatre works. These contemporary Australian performance productions are Murmuration's first major work by Sarah-Vyne Vassallo with Dan Daw, Days Like These (2017), Force Majeure's collaboration with Dance Integrated Australia, Off The Record (2016) by Danielle Micich and Philip Channells, and Dianne Reid's collaboration with Melinda Smith, Dance Interrogations (a Diptych) (2015). This research neither prescribes nor proscribes, but documents traces of Australian contemporary dance practitioners turning towards incorporating the aesthetics and lived experiences of disability. In Part One, I introduce my project, sitting at an intersection between dance, theatre and performance studies, and disability and Deaf studies. Reviewing theoretical discussion of dance and theatre practice by and with disabled practitioners, I call for disability performance theory to engage critically but explicitly in care. I mobilise a tension identified by care researcher Christine Kelly (2016) between feminist calls to reattribute value to care and disability perspectives which regard care as a masquerade for oppression, and argue this tension presents a generative framework for exploring the instances of care surfacing in my fieldwork. I apply this tension inherent to care to James Thompson's (2015) 'aesthetics of care' and suggest an extension to his theory - a 'feminist disability aesthetics of care'. In Part Two, I examine my ethnographic observations of dance theatre spanning rehearsal and performance spaces, supplemented by semi-structured interviews with directors, key artists and an audience group. I distil particular materialisations of care from acts of disclosure, a Deaf-hearing world confrontation and live performance encounters. I politicise these distillations of care by drawing on the tension inherent between feminist care ethics and disability care politics. Finally, I consider these politicised performances of care in my proposal of a 'crystal of care', an irregular and hard-edged heuristic comprised of three facets - intimacy, attentiveness and aesthetics.