The origins of live performance are steeped in ritual (Robinson, 2010). In cultures around the world, dance, music, mythic narrative, poetry, the visual arts of mask and costume design, and the awareness of context (time of day, year, location) were inextricably intertwined in a theatrical act intended to reconnect humans with their more than human selves and offer a mirror to reflect the world we live in. In our own culture, art has been separated from religion and both have been separated from every day experience. For centuries, the art world has been segmented into its various practices. Theatre, dance, music, writing, visual arts, video… these became separate overlapping disciplines.
In these contemporary times any one can learn the media tools necessary to create a soundtrack or a video. Social media and the internet offer the communication commons back to the people. Economy and cultural priorities drive artists out of theatres and in search of more affordable contexts to do their work. These are amongst the factors contributing to a rebirth of integrated interdisciplinary experience. Galleries house performances. The largest dance venues in Vienna host dance performances with almost no movement. Guerilla performances in coffee shops annihilate the line between life and art.
The question for me, in these past two decades as a performer and the last decade as a performance maker, has transformed from "how do I communicate my content through dance (or theatre, or words)" to "what do I have to say and what’s the best way to say it?" Content has become a priority over genre. The artist moves towards greater capacity for communication and expression through whatever avenues are available to him.
This chapter will place contemporary interdisciplinary performance in a historical context and offer tools for performance making drawn from examples in my own work.
(picture by Aleksey Bochovsky from The Book by Avy K productions at SOMArts. Performers: Daniel Bear Davis and Kristen Greco)