Now reverse it – Shakespeare and Dance: articulating, promoting, accommodating change

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lieu:  ESRA (European Shakespeare Research Association) International Conference, Budapest

Convenors: Mattia Mantellato (University of Udine), Adeline Chevrier-Bosseau (Sorbonne Université), Nancy Isenberg (University Roma Tre)


This year’s Shakespeare and Dance seminar proposes to explore the notion and perception of change in dance pieces inspired by Shakespeare’s works. We invite contributors to reflect on historical evolutions (global changes, shifts of political influence, the current pandemic crisis), individual transformations (of artists, choreographers, performers) and aesthetic alterations (reworking classical dance towards modern and contemporary practices, for example) that have determined a fertile cross-cultural and hybrid ground for the conception and relentless revision of ballet/dance productions based on Shakespeare’s texts.

COVID, the war in Ukraine, the influence of social media, have transformed the reception and the ways we approach and engage with the world of ballet and dance, not only in terms of live-streaming performances but also on the composition and functioning of ballet ensembles, artistic directions, and dancers’ careers.

Gender, ethnicity, body shape, (dis)abilities, inter-relational behaviors, social, economic and political status have always affected the lives and practices of individual performers, dancers, and choreographers that have worked on Shakespeare. Some of them identified with the Bard’s protagonists (José Limón’s Othello), others have reframed his themes in order to reflect on societies’ transformations (Bausch’s Macbeth), others have reworked his plots in order to propose original re-adaptations (Vámos’s Romeo and Juliet).

In terms of aesthetic alterations/revisions, Shakespeare has served as source of inspiration for changes in dance technique, from ethereal en-pointe heroines such as Juliet, to more rebellious and earthly fairies. Musical experiments, spatio-temporal alterations, and an ever-shifting vocabulary, from classical dance staples such as attitudes and precise port de bras to the use of words, natural elements and street dance in the choreographic praxis, the connections between ballet/dance and Shakespeare reflect ongoing epistemological and ontological changes, in human nature, creative imagination and embodied or corporeal expressions.

We welcome specific case studies, contributions with historical and comparative approaches (over time, across space, intersectional within and outside the world of performance), contributions connected with other fields, aiming to fill in gaps and broaden our field, give recognition to its influence in larger contexts.


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