Meg Stuart developed her movement language in her first full-length choreography that she created for the Klapstuk Festival in Leuven. The title, Disfigure Study, is by all means programmatic: Stuart shows disfigured body and movement studies and proposes the idea of shifts as a physical concept. The lighting cuts out limbs and sets them apart, hands are observed as though they were foreign, bodies tremble in eruptive shocks. Stuart focuses on the representation of bodies, also – and specifically – those on stage. In contrast and great distance to the integrated and virtuous body images in 1980s dance, Disfigure Study creates multiple, divided and sectioned bodies whose extremities are free to enter new connections.
Meg Stuart, excerpt from a talk at the Centre for New Dance Development in Arnhem, June 1992
How do I perceive myself? How am I looked at as a woman? How do people see my body? (…) The process of Disfigure Study was about asking questions. What do you need to define a dance or a dance section or a choreographic idea? What is the nature of an idea? Can I just dance with someone else’s head? Is that enough? Can that be dance? What do you need to do? How much is needed to make a physical dance? I had these images like ‘if you loved me so much, you would kiss my feet.’ Is that a dance? What is dance? Can you make a dance with one head and two feet that resonates and has meaning? I could initiate movement with any body part, but how to go into depth, how to concentrate it so that there was a narrative, so that it was not just me travelling inside my body? How to isolate the eye, trying to be as specific and clear and ‘bare bones’ as possible? How direct can you be, how close to the bone? How much do I need to do to dance, and how personal and how close can I go? How exposed? How can you break down that feeling that I am showing you what I can do?