‘Choreohistoriography’ in the Hybridized Performances of Mihran Tomasyan

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Ersöz A.

Hybrid Practices: Methodologies, Histories, and Performance, Valletta, Malta, 13 - 15 March 2019, pp.9

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Valletta
  • Country: Malta
  • Page Numbers: pp.9
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: Yes


In this paper, I offer the term choreohistoriography, as a conceptual tool to describe and analyze the performances of Turkish Armenian choreographer Mihran Tomasyan, whose productions explore trauma as a socio-political theme running through historical events. To do so, I draw upon the work of Michel Foucault, particularly The Archaeology of Knowledge, wherein he describes the methodology used by historiographers as ‘working on the document.’ I argue that this methodology overlaps with the methodology used by Mihran Tomasyan in his choreographies. The hybridization of choreography and historiography comprised as choreohistoriography, as I define it, is a form of problematization within performance that involves processing and transforming the documents of the historical events while both preserving memory and resonating with the current political events. In putting forth my argument, I first consider Foucault’s assertion that the remains of an historical traumatic event are put forward as ‘the questioning of the document’. Second, I suggest that the choreographic process can be understood as beginning ‘to work on it [document] from within and to develop it.’ Lastly, I understand that performance ultimately ‘transforms documents into monuments.’ Choreographic experience—as organized through choreohistoriography—transforms the suppressed past into a process of performing in the here and now. Tomasyan’s hybrid practices manifests in different forms such as dance, street performance, political protest, site-specific performance, and movable installations. To explore choreohistoriography, and hybrid choreographies, I analyze three works by Tomasyan: Faili Mechul (The unresolved killings), Sen Balik Degilsin Ki (You are not a fish after all) and Sar (Enclose). These three works function as choreographic interventions that address the painful and traumatic political past of Turkey such as the killings of intellectuals; the assassination of Turkish Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink in 2007, and people perished during the Armenian exile of 1915.