Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts in Dance (MFA)
Graduate Program Director
Regarded as one of the founders of postmodern dance, David Gordon is a revolutionary choreographer, theater director, and performer. Gordon often blurs the perceived boundaries between theater, dance, and performance art by utilizing a subversive approach to art making, and his ability to produce and maintain ambiguity is at the heart of his work. Through an examination of interviews, scholarly analysis, performance reviews, and Gordon’s repertory, this research highlights the inventive methodologies Gordon employs in order to generate ambiguity within various performative contexts.
The primary site of inquiry for investigating these methodologies is Gordon’s Dancing Henry Five (2011). This dance demonstrates three of Gordon’s primary techniques for producing ambiguity as a choreographer: exploring all sides of movement material and props in order to redefine their utilities and meanings; reframing relationships between various production elements to reveal a banquet of possible interpretations; and employing a neutral performance quality of the dancers to allow the perception of the content to remain mutable. These ground-breaking methods for producing and maintaining ambiguity are central to Gordon’s iconoclastic repertory, and they allow for his work to breathe anew with each reinterpretation.
Frazier-Smith, Matthew, "David Gordon: Exploring All Sides" (2018). Dance Master’s Theses. 23.