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The Againness of Vietnam in Contemporary United States Antiwar Choreography


The Againness of Vietnam in Contemporary United States Antiwar Choreography examines eight twentieth- and twenty-first century postmodern antiwar choreographies in order to uncover the reverberations of Vietnam antiwar protests in these dances. The choreographies I examine in this study are Yvonne Rainer’s 1970 M-Walk and 1970 (and 1999) Trio A with Flags, Wendy Rogers’ 1970 Black Maypole, Ann Carlson’s 1990 Flag and 2006 Too Beautiful A Day, Miguel Gutierrez’s 2001, 2008, and 2009 Freedom of Information (FOI), Jeff McMahon’s 1991 Scatter and Victoria Mark’s 2006 Action Conversations: Veterans. I theorize a concept called “againness,” in order to think through the multiple ways that repetitions specific to these particular choreographies continue to exist and to enact effects through time. I argue that repeated choreographic embodiment offers immediacy, nuanced response over time, expression through the bodies of former soldiers, and sites of mediated resistance such as live-streamed dance protest, to the United States public’s commentary on and critique of war. I conclude that choreography’s irregular and inexact repetitions are one of the ways that dance is especially apt for commenting on the large, never-ending, and ongoing traumas of the world such as war. My research extends established discussions about choreographic repetition and ephemerality, exchanging in questions of exactitude for conversations about impact. In particular, I show how the changes inherent to bodily repetitions reflect societal change, raise energy, garner power, and/or respond to current events. I study how politicized dances do not disappear after the time/space event of the initial performance, but instead linger on and reappear in unexpected moments. I thus parse out the many unbounded ways that protest choreographies happen again and again.

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