Keren Zaiontz, 3 May 2012

Our next London Theatre Seminar is 3 May, 6.30pm in Senate House 103

The speaker will be Keren Zaiontz (Roehampton)

Olympic Risk and Rhythm

This paper examines the 2012 London Olympics through two disparate accounts of the Summer Games. The first of these accounts is anecdotal and centres on my own involvement auditioning for the opening and closing ceremonies. Unable to execute the choreographic commands of West End dance captains – those charged with selecting UK residents for the ceremonies – I found myself out of step with the other Olympic hopefuls on the dance floor. What (other than red-faced shame) does my acute lack of rhythm reveal about the necessity for synchrony in national performances? The Olympic Games is a celebration of national belonging on a global stage that unfolds through corporeal solidarity. If the body is unwilling or unable to execute commands in the context of such a national event, then does this lack of technique speak to a failure of citizenship? My second account concerns the role of security in London’s transformation into the Olympic host city. I examine how the city simultaneously prepares for the arrival of tourist and terrorist publics through the rehearsal of large-scale spectacle and command post exercises. These rehearsals of celebration and threat occur in the absence of ‘real’ spectators and terror victims revealing the performative contradiction at the heart of the Games. Cutting in on the slow dance between disaster capitalism and spectacle capitalism, these accounts are offered to disrupt the embrace in which they are locked.