Although Rudkin has presented material under this title for a decade, it was significantly rewritten, restructured and extended into its current Naïve Dance Masterclass form via preliminary presentations in 2011 at the Camden People’s Theatre (London), the Nightingale Theatre (Brighton), and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2012 the project received Arts Council funding and was fully realised with dramaturgical input from Professor Liz Aggiss, Petra Massey and Silvia Mercuriali and shown at The Old Market Theatre (Brighton), the perAspera Festival (Bologna), and the Merge Festival (London); in 2013 it was presented at the Soho Theatre (London).
In Naïve Dance Masterclass, Rudkin sought to deconstruct notions of cultural hierarchy and progress within ‘avant-garde’ performance practice, and to consider the degree to which the creation and consumption of contemporary art is motivated by the desire to enhance social status and self-esteem. His creative process followed a typically postmodern pursuit of associative links resistant to narrative or philosophical closure, whilst exploring the efficacy of the comedic register as a legitimate mode of heuristic research most appropriate to these themes. The resulting piece incorporates fictional biography, parody of the framing contemporary dance, and discourse on the nature of volition. It is a parody seeking to transcend its comedic effects and invoke an aesthetic appreciation of the play of flow in the performer; to achieve the sublime by way of the ‘ridiculous’ attempt to dance like a child of four by a man of 43. It employs the popular forms of puppetry, narrative and clowning to subvert the prevalent supposition that ‘entertainment’ and ‘art’ are incompatible forms of cultural production and that, whilst questioning the value placed on originality in artistic production, Rudkin might also claim to be the originator of ‘naïve dance’ as a performance genre.