Dismantling Theatricality: Aesthetics of Bare Life

Formis Barbara

in The Work of Giorgio Agamben

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748634620
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652440 | DOI:
Dismantling Theatricality: Aesthetics of Bare Life

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This chapter takes up the challenge of thinking through what a local, committed ethical practice might look like today by way of a close reading of the controversial dance piece Parades and Changes by the North American choreographer Anna Halprin. This piece was censored in the United States for twenty years. When it was presented in New York in 1967 at the height of the Vietnam War, it provoked furious reactions and Halprin barely escaped being arrested. The gestures of parades and changes are extracted from their quotidian context and therefore lose their ‘use value’, but do not thereby become purely expressive moments. The irruption of the gaze accomplished in Parades and Changes makes theatricality properly called break down: the dancers accomplish ordinary tasks without the effect of any suspension.

Keywords: theatricality; Anna Halprin; Parades and Changes; Vietnam War; United States; dancers

Chapter.  5136 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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