Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

The conspiracy of subjectivity: myth and materiality in twenty 􀀺rst century ballet practice

This research project problematizes the applicability of ballet within a contemporary choreographic practice.

2021 - 2025
Stephen Shropshire

It examines the influence of a presupposed ballet mythology on artistic agency; exploring how historical representations of ballet, rooted in nineteenth-century romantic and classical traditions, threaten ballet’s contemporariness by situating the form outside contemporaneity. The primary concern of this research is therefore to deconstruct ballet’s grand ‘classical’ narrative and challenge the conceptual oppositions that continue to dominate its discourse.

The methodology for this research is auto-ethnographic and grounded in a semiological analysis of ballet. It explores how the metaphorical meanings of ballet’s representations, engendered by cultural, social, and political codes, and perpetuated within organizations authorized with the advancement of contemporary dance, embody within an individual practice. Building upon an understanding of the production of art as historically and culturally situated (Marx and Engels, 1976), and following a notion of dance as a signifying practice occurring within systems of power (Jackson, 1994; Foster, 1986) this research aims to challenge both experience and context; to question the culturally constructed parameters of artistic identity and re-consider the constituents of choreographic contemporaneity.

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