Vera Kérchy 2016

Tai chi and/as Marionette Dance


In his analysis, Aesthetic Formalization: Kleist’s Über das Marionettentheater, Paul de Man interprets Kleist’s three anecdotes as different models of reading. The essay’s narrator uses the short stories as illustrations of aesthetic gracefulness, but for de Man the battle with the bear allegorizes hermeneutic interpretation, the boy’s scene in front of the mirror shows the system of mimetic reading and the analysis of marionette dance stands for the performative textual model. I would like to make sense of the marionette’s descriptions (in particular the parts where Kleist uses a lot of mathematical expressions like ellipsis, parabole, hyperbole) by relying on the principles of the yang style tai chi chuan 48 form. I think, that the rules of lowering the center of gravity, balancing the counter movements or the specific state of consciousness (a meditative one in the case of tai chi, and the absolute lack of it in the case of the marionettes) connects the two ways of motion. On the basis of these similarities I argue that tai chi chuan can also be seen as an allegory of performative textual model, in other words as a performative performance. I would also like to analyse some artworks which mix the elements of tai chi and marionette theatre, especially Yeung Faï’s Hand Stories.


I am an assistant lecturer at Department of Comparative Literature, University of Szeged, Hungary. My main research topics are contemporary theatre theory, intermediality (theatre and film), theories of performance and performativity. I defended my PhD thesis in 2012. In my dissertation I analysed the differences between postmodern self-reflexive irony and deconstructive „permanent parabasis” (Paul de Man’s deconstructive notion of irony). It was published as a book in 2014. I have been teaching compulsory core courses (e.g. Theatricality, performativity; Contemporary theatre: postmodern) at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Szeged since 2006. I have been practising yang style tai chi chuan since 2009.