Modernity's Dancers: Essays on Mediation and Anachronism in Salome and Metropolis.
Abstract: This thesis focuses on two "modern dancers" from the early twentieth
century . The first chapter studies the figure of Salome in perhaps her most famous
manifestation, the musico-dramatic imagining of Richard Strauss, before moving, in the
second chapter, to an analysis of what I dub the dance scene of the robot Maria from Fritz
Lang's 1927 cult classic, Metropolis. If traditionally ... read morethe reception of these dancing women
has been strongly eclipsed by gaze theory and the female embodiment of the destructive
potential of technology, here I explore how a multitude of other factors--musical,
theatrical, technological, dramaturgical--construct each dance as a self-contained object.
As a point of departure for this project, I invoke the idea of the historical anachronism
as that which does not simply withstand time, but that continues to return persistently
throughout historical time. It is no surprise that opera, Salome notwithstanding, persists
through the repetition of performances and thus "returns" again and again on the theater
stage, multiplex cinema, and now further re-mediated on DVD. Film, moreover, exists by its
very nature through the act of replay, and thus of multiple returns rather than permanence.
In this vein, countless performances of Salome have reiterated similar ideas on
fin-de-siècle aesthetics to the extent that contemporary performances, while new, still
rely on an unspoken ideal of the scandalous, morose visuals of the Decadent Salome so that
the gesture of return inherent to live operatic performances becomes a practice in
repetition of the history of Salome. Indeed, a spectacle of bloody heads and writhing naked
bodies seem de rigeuer even today, as if unseemliness is scripted into the dramaturgy. But
what happens when a production "unsettles," to borrow a term from David Levin, this already
very unsettled operatic text?
Thesis (M.A.)--Tufts University, 2012.
Submitted to the Dept. of Music.
Advisor: Alessandra Campana.
Committee: Joseph Auner, and John McDonald.
Keywords: Music, and Film studies.read less