Bethany Whiteside & Ben Fletcher‑Watson


This second issue of the Scottish Journal of Performance explores the past, present and future of performance, with papers addressing the legacy of Pina Bausch, the production of a performative iPad experience aimed at toddlers and an examination of the social origins of contemporary dancers in Glasgow. By placing dramaturgical exploration and sociological analysis alongside a practice-centred study, this issue illustrates the extensive range of scholarly modes of engagement available to researchers.

In addition, we are delighted to include two eye-witness reports from major cultural events of early 2014: the first visit of British Dance Edition to Scotland, and the launch of Andy Scott’s monumental sculpture, the Kelpies. This engagement with ultra-contemporary concerns determinedly attends both to the journal’s stated aim to engage with current performance trends in Scotland and to a desire to exploit the affordances of the electronic medium, which permits a rapid response to new developments. William Hazlitt noted, in his 1822 essay Whether actors ought to sit in the boxes?, that ‘painters, I know, always get as close up to a picture they want to copy as they can; and I should imagine actors would want to do the same, in order to look into the texture and mechanism of their art’. For scholars too, close proximity to performance as it unfolds can be a thrillingly vital means to delve into practice and forge theory.

Home: the celebratory opening of the Kelpies at Helix Park, Falkirk by Claire Warden offers an eyewitness account of the launch in April 2014 of Scotland’s newest public art project. Warden explores the landscape of Scotland as palimpsest, suggesting that the meanings attributed to landmarks are not simply historical, but in flux, constantly contested and revised as visitors pass by. Thus the placement of the thirty-foot-high Kelpies within an industrial-bucolic-aesthetic mélange provokes many uncertainties about temporality and place. Warden usefully argues that heterogeneity is a key component of the Scottish nation’s sense of homeland, encompassing ‘the people’ and ‘the individual’, as well as both sides of the referendum debate.

In Dance and class: an exploratory study of the social origins of ballet and contemporary dancers in Glasgow, Lito Tsitsou’s ethnographic study explores the social conditions of professional ballet and contemporary dance production in Glasgow. Through drawing on data gained from semi-structured interviews and utilising the conceptual tools of ‘habitus’, ‘capital’ and ‘trajectories’ of Pierre Bourdieu, Tsitsou adds to the burgeoning sociology of dance literature to consider the specific relationship between social class and dance career. The paper postulates that social, cultural, economic and educational assets, as derived from the familial background, assist the career trajectory of the professional dancer.

Based on Ben Fletcher-Watson’s recent experiences collaborating with app developer Hippotrix and Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, From stage to screen: adapting a children's theatre production into a digital toy discusses the process of making White The App, a ‘digital toy’ aimed at children aged under five. This photo essay demonstrates the benefits, challenges and potential of adapting a Scottish theatre for early years (TEY) production into a transmedia digital toy for mobile tablet computers and smartphones. Drawing on educational, dramaturgical and technological processes and practicalities, this highly topical paper explores the innovative and successful relationship between distinct collaborators: the PhD researcher, app development company and theatre company.

Two of Pina Bausch’s most well-known dance performances are analysed by Lucy Weir in her article Audience manipulation? Breaking the fourth wall in Pina Bausch’s Kontakthof (1978) and Nelken (1982). Weir engages with themes of provocation and confrontation in Bausch’s work, innovatively contrasting them with the slipperiness of authenticity in her choreography. The paradoxical interplay between direct address and dance’s traditionally reserved spectators, for example, generates an original reading of both pieces, which Weir frames as inconsistently transgressive. Furthermore, she challenges descriptions of Tanztheater as identifiably theatrical in form, whether after Artaud or Grotowski, situating it more boldly as ‘truly unique’. Thus Bausch is (re-)presented to her audience simultaneously as trickster and tease.

Bethany Whiteside provides a report into one of the dance world’s most prestigious gatherings, held for the first time in Scotland. Her paper Intersections between the academic and ‘real’’ worlds of dance at the British Dance Edition 2014: a report offers a scholarly account of this key event in the dance world’s calendar—the industry showcase known as British Dance Edition (BDE). Just as BDE was spread across sites in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, so Whiteside contributes a wide-ranging reflection on dance in practice and in the academy. In particular, her focus on the showcase’s curated discussions, rather than its performances, permits an extensive questioning of British dance history, training and styles, as opposed to an analysis of its current ephemeral forms. Such intersections (past and present, page and stage) ground the report in a tradition of scholarly enquiry into practice, amplifying Whiteside’s call for ‘greater cohesion between the academic world of the dance scholar and the “real” world of the dance worker’.

This issue also contains reviews of recently published texts addressing performance from a variety of disciplines, including film, dance, music and theatre: Elisabetta Girelli reviews Men's Cinema: Masculinity and Mise-en-Scène in Hollywood by Stella Bruzzi; Andria Christofidou reviews Embodied Politics: Dance, Protest and Identities by Stacey Prickett; Bethany Whiteside reviews Walking and Dancing: Three Years of Dance in London, 1951-53 by Larraine Nicholas; Ralph Strehle reviews Singing: Personal and Performance Values in Training by Peter T. Harrison; and Ben Fletcher-Watson reviews Reverberations across Small-Scale British Theatre: Politics, Aesthetics and Forms, edited by Patrick Duggan and Victor Ukaegbu. The Scottish Journal of Performance welcomes proposals from scholars reviewing a performance-related text released in the past 12 months.

Lastly, we would like to thank the University of St Andrews, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Anglia Ruskin University, the British Dance Edition 2014 team, the editorial team, advisory board, our peer reviewers, funders, and especially our authors.

Bethany Whiteside and Ben Fletcher‑Watson
Co-editors, Scottish Journal of Performance