Let’s talk about Performance Studies. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, chair of the NYU Department of Performance Studies from 1981 to 1993, says, “The field of Performance Studies takes performance as an organizing concept for the study of a wide range of behavior. A post-discipline of inclusions, Performance Studies sets no limit on what can be studied in terms of medium and culture.” In simpler terms, one thing that Performance Studies is, is a study of how behavior of any kind can be a performance and how. When I took the Introduction of Performance Studies class during my undergrad at BYU, I was fascinated by this idea that anything can be performance. How can anything be performance? I’ve always thought and learned that performance is singing in a talent show, dancing in a parade, or acting in a play. Things like that. That’s performance. After taking that introduction course, I have had a hard time not seeing “non-performance” as performance.
I have always loved football. Growing up in the south, that’s just something we do. We watch football. When I got married, not only did we have football on in our home all fall, but winter brought basketball and hockey. Neither of us really enjoy baseball or soccer in the spring/summer, but I have watched both the World Series and the World Cup just to say that I did. It’s amazing how much performance happens during sporting events! There is performance on the field/court and off. Performers include players, refs, commentators, and spectators. We can even talk about the performance of broadcasts versus watching the sporting event live. Over the next year I will be periodically writing pieces highlighting different elements of performance that can be found in various sporting events, and I will focus on a major sport of the season in which I am writing. It should go without saying, but my first sport of focus will be football since we are full swing into this year’s football season (albeit different because of COVID, but it is still here).
If you have a sport that you want me to look into or if you have an element of performance that you would like me to focus on, comment and let me know!