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Dance Dramaturgy. Performance Text. Defilló

By Marianela Boán

The capacity for dramaturgical analysis in a given choreographic creation process allows me as a creator to decant the elements that mark the defining limits of a particular staging from the moment the search for material begins, in the exploration period, through construction choreography, to the staging.

In the second half of the 20th century, a type of dramaturgy generated by extra-verbal theater developed, which was based on the non-dependent creation of a “written text” and concentrated on the research and theorization of techniques for creating the “text” spectacular”, in which all the elements of the staging have as much expressive importance as the word. Examples of creators of this type of theater are Antonin Artaud, Tadeus Kantor, Jerzy Grotowsky, and Eugenio Barba in Europe, and creators of the so-called collective creation theater in Latin America such as Santiago García.

For many years I have adapted and used the theory of the Spectacular Text or Performance text, according to Eugenio Barba, to choreographic creation. I have been fortunate to have confronted this adaptation with Barba himself on countless occasions, in which he criticized and analyzed some of my works and read my articles on playwriting.

The etymological definition of the word dramaturgy is made up, according to Barba, by the combination of the Greek roots drān, which means "action" and ergon, which means "work." For Barba, then, dramaturgy is the work of actions and action is everything that intervenes in a staging as part of the same spectacular text.

The word text, seen in its Latin root as fabric and texture, is used by Barba to illustrate how he weaves his work.

In this comparison between loom weaving and spectacular weaving, Barba highlights that the fabric is made up of threads or weft based on the etymology of the word thread in Latin, and the horizontal and vertical relationship of the threads or wefts.

Within these multiple wefts or threads that make up the fabric, there are two fundamental ones; the concatenated weft (horizontal) and the simultaneous weft (vertical) which, in the same way as in a loom weave, are found vertically and horizontally.

The concatenated plot attends to what defines the temporal advance of all the elements (structure: scenes, parts, etc.) The simultaneous plot attends to what happens at each moment (light, costumes, sound, vocabulary of movement, music, objects, etc.)

All these elements that are part of the staging are considered actions and all are active, all are legible, and all contribute to the text or fabric; none is insignificant.

The fabric is strong when there is tension between actions and plots. Barba uses a word that fascinates me: at-tension; attention/tension, that is, the stage tension is directly proportional to the audience's attention. Tension between the different actions of the performance in the simultaneous sense, and in the development of each action itself in the concatenated sense, tension between choreographer and performer, between performer, choreographer and spectator, between spectator and show. Now, to create these tensions, awareness of the work of the actions or dramaturgy at each level of the creation and construction process is vital.

For a better understanding of what was explained above, below I share the performance text analysis or analysis of the spectacular text of my work "Defilló" and the video of the complete work, created in 2017 for the National Contemporary Dance Company of the Dominican Republic.

It is worth clarifying that this analysis of Defilló is after the staging, but from the first day of research and throughout the assembly time, the performance text analysis is present in my processes as a driving force and guide in decision making.

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