Techno-choreography and the embodiment of Chineseness

Xu, Z ORCID: 0000-0002-7819-4517 (2021) Techno-choreography and the embodiment of Chineseness. PhD thesis, Brunel University London.

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This thesis explores the embodiment of Chineseness in digital performance through the methodology of techno-choreography. In this practice-based research, I have created three full-length dance works: X-Body (2018), Mourning for a dead moon (2019) and Unexpected Bodies (2020). These three performances involve professionally trained dancing bodies in Chinese dance, cultural objects, scenography, software tools, real-time interactivity, virtual reality and immersion. The specific choreographing of cultural objects, including chopsticks, gaoqiao, handkerchiefs, fans and red silks, contributes to the research on dance and technology as well as current debates on cultural transexperience. The methodology of techno-choreography in this research draws on the theories of interactivity and immersion developed by Johannes Birringer, Steve Dixon, Scott deLahunta and David Rokeby. This methodology focuses on dancing bodies and objects as interfaces during the process of dance composition within computational system environments. The theories of Chineseness considered in this research are based on Xu Rui and Emily Wilcox’s studies of Chinese dance. This thesis investigates the research questions of how Chineseness contributes to the process of techno-choreography, how technology affects the embodiment of Chineseness, and what Chineseness might be in the context of techno-choreography. The methodology of technochoreography incorporates methods of improvisation, codified movements, motion tracking, programming, immersive design and scenography to explore and demonstrate Chineseness through interactions between dancing bodies and objects in the digital space. For instance, in X-Body, I create sonic chopsticks, a real-time interactive dance exploring chopsticks as interfaces performed by four dancers collaborating with live musician Dee Egan. In Mourning for a dead moon, I demonstrate body memories of Chinese classical dance working with CryptogamicLightCape designed by fashion designer Michèle Danjoux. In Unexpected Bodies, I experiment with red silks in virtual reality and develop writing Chinese characters through a dancing body, working with Oculus Quest 2. The outcome of the research is the generation of interactive performance frameworks which enable embodiments of Chineseness in digital performance. Dancing bodies trained in Chinese dance and cultural objects contribute to the methodology of techno-choreography, contesting to some extent an overly technological gadget driven discursive and performative practice encountered in the West. This thesis is the first to investigate the embodiment of Chineseness in digital performance through interfaces between dancing bodies and cultural objects in digital environments.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: dance and technology, cultural identity, choreography, interactivity, immersion
Subjects: A General Works > AC Collections. Series. Collected works
Divisions: Bath School of Music and Performing Arts
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2023 18:22
Last Modified: 10 Oct 2023 05:30
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