ABSTRACT

This contribution raises the question of what dramaturgical agency is and can be in contemporary contexts of dance creation. 1 The practices and concepts of dance dramaturgy that I present here operate with a concept of agency that captures what something or someone does, what it affects, and how new possibilities are brought into the world. How is what a work-in-creation can become affected by a choice of working collaboratively or hierarchically? What are the different effects of creating through, for example, improvisation tasks, deeply embodied psychological sources, or formal structures? Who or what is afforded dramaturgical agency: the choreographer, a dramaturg, collaborators, audiences, a process, an improvisation structure? How can the relationship between a dramaturg, collaborators, and the work as a whole shape dramaturgical agency within a creative process, and to what effect? These kinds of questions emerge from dramaturgical awareness and can take us to a space rich in potential and with the ability to support artistic enquiry and complex approaches to creation. It is a space that I consider mostly specific to dance, but it does also facilitate interdisciplinary transfer of adaptable strategies. I begin by sharing a few introductory notions of dance dramaturgy. Common concerns about dance dramaturgical agency will then be addressed, in part by situating the field historically. Finally, I draw upon the voices of a range of practitioner-scholars’ writing about dance dramaturgy to establish a contemporary conceptualization of and space for this field.