The serious art of funny business: a critical study of comedy in dance
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There is an untapped wealth of information in both the theory and praxis of comedy in the embodied realm of dance; it is a subject worthy of serious deliberation. Tills dissertation discusses the evolution of comedy and comedic theories as they relate to modem dance and narrative ballet Comedic works were examined providing insight into the theory, praxis, and craft of choreographed comedy and to inform the construction of a framework to aid in the analysis of comedic forms in dance. The works examined include: Paul Taylor's Three Epitaphs (1956), David Parsons' The Envelope (1986), Mark Morris' the Merlitone dance from the Hard Nut (1991), with a developed analysis of the seminal comedic ballet La Fille Mal Gardee. Choreographed originally by Jean Dauberval (1789), the iconographic ballet is solidified in ballet history by British choreographer Sir Frederick Ashton (1960). A theory model, generated from the gathered data, is a lens to view and question the phenomenon of comedy in choreography. I pursued a structural deconstructive approach informed by a transdisciplinary methodology, which enabled the creation of a effective model for analyzing and gauging comedic rhetorical devices. La Fill Mal Gardee, was studied as a precedent for the role of comedy as a choreographic structure in dance. The research methodology and procedures drew from a broad disciplinary foundation in comedy, philosophy, theatre, dance, history, and my own background as a comedic performer. Slowly a picture formed of a series of complex structures, worlds in which comedy in dance exists, each with its own logic, codes, and canons. Comedy within each dance work is a capsule of information informing the larger picture of that work which becomes a framework for studying the contingent particularities of the comedy existing within it (Roche, 1998). Each work has a unique enclosed system of actions that clarify a new reality. The similarities and differences within these systems provide insight into comedic dance as an epistemological enterprise.