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Dr. Mark Franko speaks at Bryn Mawr

On Wednesday, November 1, the Bryn Mawr Center for Visual Culture and the Dance Program sponsored a talk by eminent dance scholar, Dr. Mark Franko attended by faculty and students from the bi-co community as well as visitors to the campus.  The paper delivered, Can We Inhabit a Dance? Reflections on Dancing the ‘Bauhaus Dances’ in Dessau, focused on the original performances and subsequent reconstructions of Oskar Schlemmer’s late 1920s experimental “Bauhaus Dances” from the perspective of the spectator and the performer.  Anyone familiar with Dr. Franko’s work would not be surprised to find him, yet again, seamlessly blending the erudite and the experiential, and for those in the audience more conditioned to the still body reading at a lectern, what an informative surprise to see him intersperse his reading with dance gesture and vocalization.  His research for the paper drew on multiple disciplines—architectural and dance history, cultural studies, philosophy and more—but it also emerged from his own experiences dancing in Debra McCall’s 1994 reconstruction of the “Bauhaus Dances” that returned the performance of the work to its point of origin in a post-war restoration of Walter Gropius’s theatre for the Bauhaus in the east German city of Dessau just five years after the end of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany—restorations, reinhabitings, and reinventions on multiple levels.

So many questions were raised by Dr. Franko’s paper:  Can a dance reinhabit its originary space and, in a twist, what of the originary space remains in the dance/dancers performed/performing elsewhere; how do the dancers exhibit, dwell in, construct or influence the space and, how does the space press, summon, shape the dance/dancer; what is the relationship of all of this to the architecture of the Bauhaus building; what is the relationship of all of this to agency, particularly in those dances in which dancers are encased in a neutralizing costume that renders them readable as abstracted, marionette-like beings; and can the audience in its very presence or responses to  the dance/dancers also be conceptualized as space in its capacity to be a gestural shaper?  Given that these are just a few of the ideas explored and discussed, it is easy to imagine what an incredibly full and generative lecture this was. Our thanks to Mark Franko.

Posted in EVENTS.

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  1. Mark Franko says

    Thank your for this wonderful description of the talk. I fully enjoyed the combination of a dance and visual culture audience and speaking across disciplines in this way.