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Gestures of Music TheaterThe Performativity of Song and Dance$
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Dominic Symonds and Millie Taylor

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199997152

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199997152.001.0001

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Dynamic Shape

Dynamic Shape

The Dramaturgy of Song and Dance in Lloyd Webber’s Cats

(p.54) Chapter 4 Dynamic Shape
Gestures of Music Theater

Ben Macpherson

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the ways in which physical and dramaturgical sequences or textures juxtapose and discourse with each other in the performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats (1981). Examining notions of co-creation between audience and performers, the chapter draws on neurobiological research into embodiment and reception, developing a series of schematic charts that demonstrate the “dynamic shape” of Cats: the gestural shapes of song and dance which combine and collide physically or vocally, to provide a sense of narrative in a musical notorious for its jamboree of character studies and apparent lack of overarching trajectory. Analyzing schematics that chart the use of space, ensemble, voice and movement in this musical—through a focus on embodied reception—the chapter finds that the secret of Cats is its physical demonstration of “micro-narratives” implicit in its songs and dances.

Keywords:   dynamic shape, dramaturgy, cats, ensemble, embodiment, corporeality, conceptual blending, body-rhythms

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