This post offers brief insight into the representations of the body in contemporary dance (Del Ponte De Assis, 2015) and how the transgressive body can enhance the subjectivity of performers (Spackman, 2000). I’m also sharing three of my new finds this week; a choreography that caught my attention because of the tight unison, an intriguing NYC based performance artist and an article about Fringe Festival. It’s a short one because I’ve been busy finalising Erotic Edition Choreography Cards for Pole Purpose, amongst teaching and training.
Gender in contemporary dance, as perceived by audiences, can often lead to a misrepresentation of sex. A perfect demonstration of this is Caminho da Seda, choreographed by Roseli Rodrigues and performed by São Paulo’s Raça Dance Company, a work that explores various aspects of masculinity and femininity. Throughout the work, the male and female cast concurrently construct and dissolve a gendered identity by playing with physicality, material and the anatomical dissimilarities of the male and female body. For instance, towards the end of the clip (below) both men and women are wearing skirts with no tops. The nude torso demonstrates the bodily difference of the sexes and is further emphasised with isolated shoulder movements that consequently move the breasts of the women. Choreographically, I think this is something worth exploring in itself; how does the body continue to “move” as a result of movement. I think it would depend a lot on body type, body fat and willingness to let go.
A willingness to let go can be merged with thoughts surrounding the transgressive body. In “The Mutant Woman: The Use and Abuse of the Female Body in Performance Art” Spackman argues, despite the objectifying, absurd and explicit nature of some contemporary live art performances (Abramovic, Ron Athey and Franko B) see below, the artists’ body is a powerfully expressive medium that can mark subjectivity of artists’. This subjectivity allows for a reconfiguration of identity that goes beyond oppressive authority and could therefore be fully utilised in theoretical articulation and discussion in education. For example, relative to the body in dance performance, Spackman refers to early practitioners, such as Isadora Duncan and Lois Fuller, because of how their influence on modern and postmodern dance presented a clear resistance to classical ballet, moving them away from patriarchal conventions of gender and sexuality. Thus, their resistance produced a presentation of self which shifted them from something that is socially defined and externally-imposed, to something that is consciously self-crafted and identifiable by the artist.