PhD in the Politics of Urban Choreography and Theatre
A project by: Tomi Idowu Kassim
MY PROFILE AND PREMISE:
I am a Performing Artist, Choreographer and recent Visiting lecturer who will be starting my PhD at Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL) in the coming academic year. The subject is the cultural, political and social constructs of urban identity and affectation, in dance and theatre performance.
My research project concerns reflexive (between making and writing) means of reconnecting with indigeniety (indigenous to the African diaspora) through dance performance works, whilst my methodology consists of studying several different processes of pain body dissemination: the cultural recognition in kinaesthetic empathy; the relationship between linguistic and somatic language of performance of African origin; the psychological implications and the elements shock and existentialism within the form. I aim to explore ideas of performance and documentation whilst undertaking qualitative research collaborations with practitioners based in Africa; exploring specific research questions. I aim to make a link between current contemporary practises in urban performance, and the documentation of historical archives in political theatre and this aspect of my research will require extensive travel, and subsequent costs.
I suggest that the collective external locus of control resulting from a departure from original forms of African spirituality (see Perry 2004, p107), has endengered a disenfranchised urban body, and its inherent affectations have evolved into a unifying site for cultural discourse, social and political commentary evident in contemporary urban performance forms.
Embedded within many African languages and the semantics embraced by subcultures, is an innate understanding of our inter-connectedness and the reciprocal nature of the bodies being. Urban dance and theatre performance affectations spring forth from this lived cultural knowledge embodied by a performer, and subsequently reflect the culture with which the dancer identifies. I further propose that many of the emotions that go towards the construction of an audiences’ subjectivity have a biological origin; and the particular semantics and language used to describe subjective experiences (particularly in urban performance) are social and cultural in character. Emotion originates from the physiological and an understanding of the role of subjectivity in social interaction must be underpinned by the awareness of the social and political body.
WHY YOU MIGHT WANT TO SUPPORT ME:
- I already lecture in my research area; and it has been noted that whilst there is a wealth of creative output in this area of praxis, there is a deficit in accredited academic papers to inform and underpin the genre. I hope to bridge this gap by contributing extensively with a body of thoroughly researched and accredited material.
- In the process of my contribution toward the field of performing art through education and as an artist, I will consider how my findings embedded within the cross-disciplinary research areas of my program can serve to initiate a platform for a collaborative economic regeneration within the diaspora.
- The results of my written and practical research will then be published, in order to serve as a much needed reference source for future performance art students, the wider student community, grass roots urban artists and other academics. This published work will take the form of a published book, and thought provoking performance pieces.