Here is a snippet of what has caught my interest this week, including the role and function of props in dance,  how I have used them in my work, a bit about Penny Slinger, and a question I am asking.

Props in Dance

Chen (2015) discusses how props are used to “depict characters’ inner world, create typical stage environment, convert the space and time, decorate stage colour, and enhance dance atmosphere and dance rhythm”(p.110). He proposes that props have been used in historical and modern Chinese dance and that they often project social and cultural traits. For instance, an expensive sword used in a Chinese dance can reflect the dancer’s classy social status.

It is well known that props have the power to drive the style of the dance work, too, this is why pole dance, with its sexual and symbolic connotations, often prompts dancers to produce a more sensual and erotic style of movement. However, choreographers have long gone against traditional rules of art forms. In my experience with pole, I have cut the pole in half, neglected to erect the pole, hung one from the ceiling and I have even shown how site-specific dance spaces, such as a studio with a ballet Barre, can provide a structure for experimental pole performance.

Of course, there is a lot more motivation behind the decisions to show the pole in a different light, but I can assure you that the most significant outcome of taking such action is the amount of agency it offers.

An artist I am learning about

Slingers work, which is often sparked by tantric art and surrealism, is really insteresting to me because of the focus her work has on women. She has a remarkable way of expressing the female psyche through her work in collage, performance, film, photograph, and drawing. I was surprised to learn that she was inspired by male artists, such as Egon Schiele and Alberto Giacometti, considering the female focus of her work. However, she does express that being exposed to male representation of the female body inspired  her to go under the skin of women and deeper into their subconscious.

In her her work Bride’s Cake Series (1973), for instance, she made a comedic series of photographs that underscored the value of a ceremonial cutting of a wedding cake (which is sometimes considered as men having permission to enter the female body). She turned herself into a cake, the cake was then cut, exposing her body, only, the most intimate parts of her body were layered with other pieces of her work including flowers, lips and eyes. Have a look here.

From a solo performer perspective, whereby I use my own body as a tool for exploration, I am fascinated by Slinger’s use of her body in her own work and how she articulates the reasoning behind it. In an online interview, Slinger Stated she uses herself as her own muse because, like Frida Kahlo, she knows her body best and she can “savage” her body.

A question I am asking myself

“Is social media killing your creativity?”

The answer is irrelevant right now, but the question itself is enough to iterate an answer.

Rowena x

Chen, Q. (2015) Discussion on Role and Functions of Props in Dance. Cross-Cultural Communication, 11 (3), pp.110-112

Penny Slinger