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|Decolonizing Immersion: Translation, spectatorship, rasa theory and contemporary British dance
Mitra R.; Decolonizing Immersion: Translation, spectatorship, rasa theory and contemporary British dance ;Performance Research vol:21.0 issue: 5.0 page:89.0
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|This article decolonises hitherto Anglophonic theorising of the audience phenomenon of immersion by disassociating it from the participatory and interactive nature of immersive theatre practices, and locating it instead in the reception of contemporary British dance. It argues that by looking to rasa, the art reception theory as laid out in the Natyashastra (an ancient Indian dramaturgical treatise), immersion can also be theorised and experienced as an embodied and psycho-physical state that transpires between any audience, any artist and any piece of art that is premised on gestural codes of communication, regardless interactive participation. If rasa is immersion, as demonstrated through the context of contemporary British dance, then this article simultaneously de-Sanskritises (and de-exoticises) this very concept that has become many western scholars principal intrigue within the Natyashastra. The article then further challenges western preconceptions of rasa as a culturally loaded and temporally specific concept that is only experienced through interactions with Indian art, as per its codifications nearly two millennia ago. In order to exemplify this argument, the article draws on two case studies from the field of contemporary British dance: Desh (2011) by the British-Bangladeshi dancer and choreographer Akram Khan and Yesterday (2008) by the Israeli choreographer Jasmin Vardimon. While distinct in many ways, Desh and Yesterday embody shared themes and aesthetic in the forms of border-identity politics, character transformations through body-markings and intermediality. Through comparative analyses the article argues that in these pieces, audiences can experience immersion, but it is not through physical interactivity as championed by immersive theatre practices. Instead, here, immersion is triggered as an embodied state, accessed from within the audiences interiorities and attuned-ness to twenty-first global migration politics, enhanced by their first hand lived knowledge and/or second hand mediatised awareness of what is at stake for bodies at borders, vis-à-vis volatile migrant identity-politics. © 2016 The Author(s) Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.