In dance, nudity is often associated with stylised forms such as pole dance (in its traditional setting), striptease and burlesque. Quite often, the choreography within these styles is driven by titillation and or themes of sexuality. However, the choreographers listed below have utilised nudity in a variety of other ways that have nothing to do with seduction. For instance, nudity has been used to uncover the vulnerability of the body (Van Huynh), amplify themes that surround the body (Riva and Cosmimi) or to question how spectators view the body in performance (Le Roy).
Before the performers undress to form an array of images with their combined bodies, Le Roy cleverly creates a basis for reflection by having his performers engage in conversation with the audience. The verbal exchange between audience and performer disrupts the spectators’ view of the performers as objects, thus providing further questioning. Le Roy asks “Are they really the same anyway? How does the perception of both dancers and spectators change? How are they going to recreate a common space?” The concept and questioning within this work would be worth considering in terms of audience and performer relationship in pole dance or striptease. What is the audience expectation of performers outside of contemporary dance?
Before I read anything about this work, it was already very clear that it had something to do with the constraints of femininity, due to the all-female cast who were either restricted in arm or leg movement. Throughout, Riva looks not only at the metaphorical and physical limitation of the body, but at how new forms of movement can be made as a result of these restraints. For instance, as the work evolves, there is almost a metamorphoses of the bound woman transforming into another species. I saw the two women as cats as one point. My only criticism of this work is that two of the performers were wearing a skin coloured, fishnet body stocking. If you’re going to be naked, do it properly! Or maybe the fishnet had something to do with the evolution of species and they were exploring being a fish at some point during the process. Hmmm. If you can speak French, I’m sure you’ll learn much more about this work than I did.
I had the pleasure of viewing “DEP” live at Unity Theatre as part of Homotopia Festival in Liverpool 2017. What I remember most about this work is how the performers entered the stage, totally naked, one by one, in a casual, yet vulnerable way. Their positioning at the front of the stage, in extremely close proximity to the audience, gave spectators the opportunity to face their own anxieties about viewing naked bodies and to question the purpose of the nudity within the work. Van Huynh suggests that lack of clothing literally strips the performers’ bare, creating freedom from distraction and therefore resulting in movement that allows the mind to surpass the physical self.
This choreography, inspired by the work of Pier Paolo Pasolina, is a bit “full on” in comparison to the others I have listed above, but I must say, the literal essence of the work is what drew me in. At first, I seen a punishing and almost fetishist representation of male and female power dynamics, and although this continues during the course of work, the repetitive entrance of the controlling male normalised the power dynamic and encouraged me to see the woman as someone who has admitted defeat. This remains during the closing of the work when the female is standing on a podium, smiling with anguish.
I’ll be back next week with more to share, but in the meantime, you can see my daily updates by following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook