michael j. morris


Prop. 8 Upheld

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/27/us/27marriage.html?_r=1&hp

Today the California Supreme Court ruled to uphold Proposition 8 in the state of California. From the New York Times (link above):

“Chief Justice Ronald M. George for a 6-to-1 majority, said that same-sex couples still have the right to civil unions, which gives them the ability to “choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage.” But the justices said that the voters had clearly expressed their will to limit the formality of marriage to opposite-sex couples.

“Justice George wrote that Proposition 8 did not “entirely repeal or abrogate” the right to such a protected relationship, but argued that it “carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term ‘marriage’ for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law.””

This makes me crazy. It offends me that this is the perspective of the law being upheld in the country in which I live. While it is true that the state of California does allow same-sex civil unions that offer equal legal protection under the law (along with four other states and the District of Columbia; see HRC’s website for the full info on same-sex marriage rights in the United States), civil unions are issued by and recognized BY THE STATE, whereas the legal status of “marriage”, while issued by the state, is recognized by the Federal Government, a recognition that is accompanied by more than 1,100 federal rights, benefits, and privileges. What I cannot wrap my head around is how a state supreme court can offer “equal state rights by another name” as the illusion of true equality. Nor can I understand to any degree how a federal government that currently supports this inequality is doing nothing in this or similar situations.

Then I recall that there are powerful voices in our nation advocating against equality. I hate that I came across this commentary on Anderson Cooper 360 today. I hate that things like this are being said.

Tony Perkins is the President of the Family Research Council. Here is the Family Research Council’s official press release on today supreme court ruling in California:

 “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2009

CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Maria Donovan, (866) FRC-NEWS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Family Research Council President Tony Perkins today praised the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold democracy and reject efforts to strip the right of the people to amend the state’s Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. 

“Over one million Californians signed petitions to place Proposition 8 on the ballot and over seven million voters approved the measure on Election Day. California’s Constitution gives its citizens the right of self-governance and we are pleased that the court resisted demands to strip the right of the people to amend the state constitution. Even this widely-recognized liberal court understands that overturning Proposition 8 would represent a repudiation of the state Constitution it is sworn to uphold. 

“Unfortunately, the Court chose to ignore the plain meaning of Proposition 8 and will force state recognition of same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses issued last year. The Court’s recognition of these ‘marriages’ clearly seeds the ground for a possible legal battle before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“At every opportunity, the people of California have voted to protect marriage because they recognize the far reaching consequences that redefining marriage will have for children, the family, religious liberties, businesses and every facet of American society. Today’s decision should encourage pro-family activists not only in California but across the country. Marriage redefinition is not inevitable unless advocates of the family stand aside and allow it to happen.”

– 30 –

 

I am offended to read praise for empowering a population to impose inequality in a nation that was supposedly founded on equal rights for all citizens. I am offended that this issue is touted as an issue of faith, family values, or semantics rather than one of civil rights. I am offended that heterosexual marriage is elevated as somehow sacred simply on the basis of it being between a man and a woman, no matter its content, no matter its foundation or integrity. I am offended that the re-definition of the legal status of marriage to recognize same-sex marriages is discussed as anti-family and the end of civilization as we know it, as if marriage has not been understood and re-defined culturally throughout history. The Family Research Council made similar statements in April after Iowa moved to recognize same-sex marriage under the law. 

 

 

The court decision is discussed with language such as “forcing same-sex marriage on an unwilling populous,” as if the decision to recognize equal rights for same-sex couples means that the population of Iowa at large will be subjected to non-consensual homosexual unions. It offends me that same-sex marriage is discussed as the gateway to polygamy and marriages between adults and minors, as if the one logically leads to the next. It offends me that the contemporary American definition of marriage is touted as the icon of “5000 years of human behavior,” as if past centuries in cultures around the globe have not recognized all sorts of variations not only on the formal composition of a marriage, but also the meaning which the culture gave to it. 

Earlier this year, I wrote a letter to the FRC responding line by line to their official statement on homosexuality. At the time I did not feel it necessary to make my statement/response public, but today as events such as the California Supreme Court decision continue to unfold, and as organizations such as FRC continue to proliferate statements of their views into arenas of public discourse, I felt the need to make my statements more public as well. It can be viewed here.

At the same time, I am encouraged that their are public advocates for equality to continue to be just as vocal as the FRC. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released the following statement today:

5/26/2009

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, responded to the California Supreme Court’s split 6-1 decision today ruling that Proposition 8, the narrowly approved measure which eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry, is valid.  As a result of the court’s decision in Strauss v. Horton, California becomes the first state in the nation to strip away marriage rights for same-sex couples.  As same-sex couples and allies from across the country react to the news, HRC is releasing an online, YouTube video set to the song “I Won’t Back Down”: www.HRC.org/California
 
“Today’s ruling is a huge blow to Americans everywhere who care about equality.  The court has allowed a bare majority of voters to write same-sex couples out of basic constitutional protections,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.  “This ruling is painful, but it represents a temporary setback.  There will be a groundswell to restore marriage equality in our nation’s largest state, and HRC will not give up until marriage equality is restored in California.” 

One significant effort already underway is a strategic partnership between HRC and California Faith for Equality (CFE), a statewide group established to educate, support and mobilize faith communities on LGBT equality.  The partnership joins CFE and its 6,000 supporting faith leaders with both HRC’s Religion and Faith Program expertise as well as HRC’s National Field Department to broaden, diversify and deepen religious support for marriage equality in California.

“This ruling couldn’t be more out of step with what’s happening across the country,” said Solmonese, pointing to recent marriage victories in Iowa, Vermont and Maine. “We have no choice but to return this basic question of fairness for the estimated 1 million LGBT Californians back to the voters.”
  
“While we are relieved that the 18,000 couples who married before the Prop 8 vote will still have valid marriages, it does not in any way remove the sting of this ruling,” added Solmonese.
 
Over the past decade, public acceptance of marriage equality for same-sex couples has changed dramatically.  For the first time, more Americans say they support marriage for same-sex couples (49%) than oppose it (46%), according to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll released in late April.”

 

Below is the video referenced in the body of HRC’s statement. If nothing else, it inspires me to hope.

 

I am sure there are some who might read this and wonder what relevance it has to me creative activity or work as a dance artist/scholar. The shortest answer is that it is all connected. As I make work, as I consider the body and its social relevance, I am brought face to face with the society in which I am creating, in which I am living. As I consider the subjects of my research, I consider the research and analysis and writing that has not been done, that has not been explored by dance scholars. This was the fuel for my recent presentation on the negotiation of gender in the work of Bronislava Nijinska. I am currently exploring the potential for analyzing the work of Frederick Ashton through a queer lens. Ashton was a homosexual choreographer, and yet his work has rarely been considered for its potential as a contributor to queer culture or a queer contribution to dance culture. It all relates, it all synthesizes, and part of the purpose of this blog is for these ideas and interests from seemingly disparate parts of living and making to co-exist in this space, to find relationships and offer new points of interest in the process. If this particular post seems too political or too removed from art/dance/creative activity, I encourage you to reconsider it as a component of the making, of the thinking that leads to the making, of the living which fuels and influences and shapes the making. I encourage you to follow a trail of “tags” and see how ideas start to relate, maybe in ways that they didn’t before.



Presenting Nijinska, etc.

Suffice to say, this quarter of grad school seems to be my busiest thus far. As such, my blogging has become a bit more infrequent. But I did want to offer a brief description of my most recent contribution to the field of dance.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to present a paper at the Midwest Slavic Conference being held here at OSU. I presented on a panel entitled “Aspects of the Ballets Russes” with my colleague Hannah Kosstrin. She presented a fascinating paper exploring vestiges of the Ballets Russes in American popular culture, specifically making a comparative choreographic analysis between Vaslav Nijinsky’s L’Après-midi d’un Faune and Michael Jackson’s music video for “The Way You Make Me Feel.” 

I presented a paper entitled “The Negotiation of Gender in the Work of Bronislava Nijinska.” It is an excerpt from longer work exploring the negotiation of gender in the performance and choreography of both Nijinsky and Nijinska. For this particular presentation, I limited myself to choreographic analyses of Les Noces and Les Biches. Sadly, Nijinska has been extremely under-recognized, and when she has been recorded or discussed, it is most often in relationship to her brother. It was exciting to have this opportunity to share my experience of her and her work to an academic audience.

Resisting the urge to copy-and-paste the entire paper, I will try to highlight the major points of my presentation. As I said, it was primarily a choreographic analysis of the negotiation of gender in Nijinska’s Les Noces and Les Biches. I presented Les Noces as demonstrating gender as an expression not of individual identity but of social will. Noces is the depiction of a Russian peasant wedding in four scenes. One of my main points was that although it is a wedding supposedly between one man and one woman, the central figures of the ballet, the Bride and the Bridegroom, are essentially inactive, passive figures, surrounded, moved, and eventually upstaged by the massive active groupings of their community. Although presented as discrete figures, they appear without discretion. Nijinska seems to present this young woman and young man as symbols both of those oppressed by the social expectations attached to gender and of the means by which they are oppressed, epitomes of woman and man and all of that those roles represent.

Yet there is a subliminal break from this thematic binary. Although she clearly addresses the oppressive roles of woman and man, the movement vocabulary of the ballet remains primarily genderless. Spatial groupings of men and women dissolve to form a genderless mass. Absent is the traditional partnering and support work previously inherent in ballet. Even the steps and gestures of the masses hold little distinction between male and female. What I suggest is that Nijinska presents a “solution” choreographically (the in-distinction of gender) to the problem she addresses thematically.

Les Biches I discuss primarily as returning gender and its expression to the realm of the individual. Gone are the passive figures represented in Les Noces. In Biches, we are given a vibrant cast of characters each with a distinct sexual and gender identity. This ballet is rooted not in narrative or plot, but in the expression of these characters, the negotiation of their roles with one another. These roles range from parody of popular gender roles of the 1920s (in the Girls in Pink, and the Male Athletes), to divergent sexual expressions (the Girls in Grey, a pair of young sapphists), to the ambiguous characters who seem to lie in the realm of the “third sex”, neither clearly male nor female in their gender identity (namely, the Hostess (Nijinska’s own role), and the Garçonne). These characters of the “third sex”, both female, transgress social and physical roles of what was expected of women. In them, Nijinska separates biological fact from social reality, and this would seem to me to be the success of the ballet.

Here are a few photos from the presentation (mostly from the Royal Ballet):

Les Noces

Les Noces

 

Les Noces (from the Joffrey Ballet)

Les Noces (from the Joffrey Ballet)

Les Noces

Les Noces

 

Les Biches, Girls in Pink

Les Biches, Girls in Pink

 

Les Biches, Male Athletes

Les Biches, Male Athletes

 

Les Biches, Girls in Grey

Les Biches, Girls in Grey

Les Biches, Nijinska as the Hostess

Les Biches, Nijinska as the Hostess

 

Les Biches, the Hostess

Les Biches, the Hostess

Les Biches, the Garçonne

Les Biches, the Garçonne

 

Les Biches, Nijinksa with Georgina Parkinson as the Garçonne

Les Biches, Nijinksa with Georgina Parkinson as the Garçonne

 

And here is the version of Les Noces that I used for my analysis of the choreography:

 

 

 

 

Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of the presentation was the diversity of fields represented in the audience. Those listening came from the fields of dance, Slavic studies, and musicology, all of whom have ties to the work that we were addressing. It reminded me of an awareness brought to the forefront by the “Synchronous Objects” project, that what we view and study and consider as dance is in fact a complex phenomenon with relevance in many fields, and the way in which we define a thing (such as dance or choreography) comes entirely out of the lens or context through which we are viewing it. I was extremely aware of this condition as I spoke about what I think of as the choreography of Nijinska, but is also thought of as a part of the legacy of Stravinsky, or an expression of Slavic folk custom and ritual. And it is in fact all of those things simultaneously; its “meaning” or relevance is not an intrinsic quality, but a quality that emerges out of engagement with it. the way in which it is engaged shapes the meaning that emerges.

Other ideas/influences in my dancing/creative/researching life right now are:

-Somatic studies (developing deep listening within the body and an awareness of the individual Self through its expression in bodily experience)
 -Labanotation: I am currently taking Laban II, learning Yvonne Ranier’s “Trio A” and the Sylph variation in Act II of La Sylphide from Labanotated scores. I am also digging deeper into the theory of the notation system in preparation for a Labanotation Teacher Certification Course I am taking this summer.
-Mark Johnson’s The Meaning of the Body: Aesthetics of Human Understanding, which seeks primarily to connect the nature of meaning to the embodied nature of experience.
Teaching Seminar with Susan Hadley, challenging me to think through what it is I value in the teaching of dance techinque
-History, Theory, and Literature of Choreography with Karen Eliot and Melanie Bales
-Modern technique with CoCo Loupe (rocking my world)

Etc.

 



Ballet West, Les Biches, etc.
7 April, 2009, 7:37 am
Filed under: Dance | Tags: , , ,

The New York Times just ran this lovely article on Ballet West’s season containing works by the Ballets Russes. Of particular interest to me was the descriptions of Les Biches. I am presenting a paper in less than two weeks at the Midwestern Slavic Studies Conference on the negotiation of gender in the work of Bronislava Nijinska (this is a truncated version of a larger paper that examines both Nijinska and Nijinsky through this lens). As stated in the article, Les Biches is a rarity in America, and it is exciting to read the descriptions, whoever brief:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/arts/dance/07west.html?_r=1&ref=dance



These Pleasures Instead of Others

Not being a believer in the concept of “should” or “should not,” I can hardly say that I should be doing other things. There is certainly work to get done that I am neglecting in favor of other pleasures. I am presenting a paper on the negotiation of gender in the choreography of Bronislava Nijinska at the 2009 Midwest Slavic Studies Conference in April, and that paper is still in need of revision. It will serve as a component of a panel in which I am participating entitled “Aspects of the Ballets Russes,” with colleague Hannah Kosstrin. 

There is also the work of the new solo I am choreographing entitled “Red Monster,” which I discussed in an earlier post. I am not sure when this piece will be premiered, but there is an adjudicated concert at OSU in June, and the adjudication is on 4 April. I may attempt to have the piece presentable by then.

But instead, I have given myself over to other pleasures. The pleasures of today include perusing the Fall Ready-to-Wear lines and reading Nico Muhly’s blog

I have recently become obsessed with Muhly’s music. I heard the soundtrack for The Reader and became smitten. Then I explored some of his earlier works, and today purchased Mothertongue in its entirety from iTunes. I recommend all of his work. It bounces around personal references like Meredith Monk, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Arvo Pärt. Today, it is my only listening pleasure.

The Fall lines. I have to say, as always, I am mostly disappointed by the men’s lines (not to mention the larger philosophical objection to lines like “men” and “women”). I don’t know why it is that for the most part the bodies of men are somehow perceived and displayed as shapeless. I don’t know how anyone can examine the male form and come to the conclusion that it is composition of loosely tapered cylinders. Yet that seems to be implied by so many collections of jackets and coats and slacks. And there’s something else: the forms are all so . . . closed. Guarded. Shielded. Prada even made a comment about her line being about survival and strength. And I just want to shout, “It’s been done!” Men portrayed as strong survivors? groundbreaking. So I suppose I’ll begin by sharing the few pieces for men that struck me, then follow with the far more interesting women’s lines:

costume_national_fall09_001

costume national

hermes_fall09_001

hermes

hermes_fall09_002

hermes

Oh, that was it for the men.
Onto women’s (also see previous post with a few images): 

prada_fall09_0011

prada

prada_fall09_002

prada

lacroix_fall09_001

christian lacroix

philip_lim_001

philip lim

philip_lim_002

philip lim

akris_fall09_0011

akris

verawang_fall09_001

vera wang

verawang_fall09_002

vera wang

dior_fall09_001

christian dior

So lovely. I should say that all images are from style.com

I hope you enjoy my pleasures for today. Perhaps I will begin to give attention to Nijinska and “Red Monster” this evening. Or perhaps tomorrow.



Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes

This article was published this week in the New York Times, taking a brief (if not strongly opinioned) look at the centennial of the Ballets Russes:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/arts/dance/08maca.html?_r=1&ref=dance

Macaulay mentions tributes to the Ballets Russes being presented worldwide. I was interested in what these might be and have done some browsing. Here is what I have found:

On May 16th through May 23rd 2009, Boston will host a festival marking one hundred years since Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes premiered in Paris in May 1909. You can find more info here.

As part of this festival, the Boston Ballet will be presenting four Ballets Russes ballets, including Le Spectre de la Rose (Fokine), L’apresmidi d’un Faune (Nijinsky), The Prodigal Son (Balanchine), and a new interpretation of Le Sacre du Printemps by Jorma Elo. Info on those performances can be found here

Ballet West is presenting a concert entitled “Treasures of the Ballets Russes,” featuring The Polovetsian Dances (Fokine), Les Biches (Nijinska), and The Prodigal Son (Balanchine). More information can be found here. I am rather curious about this performance, because to my knowledge there is no surviving film, video, or notation of Les Biches. This performance does credit the original choreography by Nijinska; I am most curious about the source of this choreography. Nijinska is something of a passion of mine, and while I would be more than thrilled to see her work, I am wary of its misrepresentation.

The Australian Ballet is staging work in celebration of Ballets Russes, including a new interpretation of Firebird by Graeme Murphy, Petrouchka and Les Sylphides (Fokine). More info here.

Not necessarily related to the centennial of the premiere of the Ballets Russes, I am potentially presenting a paper and participating in a panel discussion at the 2009 Midwest Slavic Conference here at OSU. The paper is originally “The Negotiation of Gender in the Work of Nijinsky and Nijinska,” looking at their treatment of gender in their performing and choreographic careers. The paper I present will have to be truncated out of necessity, and may focus on the choreographic work of either Nijinsky or Nijinska (I haven’t yet decided). More details about this will follow pending the approval of my abstract and panel.

All in all, an exciting year for the Ballets Russes. I’m sure there are more events out there. If you hear of any, feel free to comment and mention them here. I have no idea how my schedule will look, but I am seriously considering finding a way to attend this festival/performances/symposium in Boston in May. We’ll see how that works out.

 

Best.



connections here at an end
11 December, 2008, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

We have reached the end of the quarter, my first quarter of grad school. I only had a minor postpartum meltdown last night, mourning the absence of so much that has filled my every minute for the last few months. My paper on Nijinsky and Nijinska is complete for now. It’s title is “The Negotiation of Gender in the Work of Nijinsky and Nijinska,” and comes in just over 25 pages. I cannot say that I think it is finished. I hope that I continue to let that material sort itself out in my mind, and that I can revisit the paper with more of my own thoughts/speculations/contributions to the dialogue of Nijinsky and Nijinska, rather than writing a paper that simply agree and disagrees with previous statements made by other scholars. So I see the paper as an ongoing affair, continuing to dance with these ghosts a bit.

One of the things that I was interested in coming out of this blog was new thought sparked by the juxtaposition of other thoughts, which is so evident in my “tag cloud” on the left. The big words are the ones that have been mentioned with more regularity, and so on. Today, the biggest words are Election, Gender, Nijinska, and Research, with Love and Yoga and Dance coming in next. Things I see when I look at the cloud:

-“Election” nestled between “Dance” and “Emergent Taxonomy;” what a beautiful implication, that somehow dance might contribute to the emergent (democratic) process that governs policy in our nation. It makes me think about the role of the body, the presence and intelligence of the body, governance of the body, laws that impose hierarchical concepts on the body (like, in New York, you have to have a permit if three or more people are dancing in a public space; or transfats being banned by the FDA; laws that restrict/prohibit specific sexual activities in certain parts of the country; etc.) The body is so intrinsic to the individual. We so frequently in our culture operate under a Cartesian understanding of the body as a machine which houses the mind or spirit, and yet the body is central to all experience. It is through the body that we are present in the world, it is through the body that we sense, perceive, know, decide. All of our thought processes begin in the body. So what does it say about a society that is supposed to operate out of a consensus of individuals that governing bodies impose restrictions on bodies? It is so much deeper than restricting action. It feels like censorship of the individual experience itself, that from which everything stems. And maybe it seems benign, but I am interested it how it even comes about, and what it might mean that a society allows that sort of governance. . .

-I see the three big words of “Election” “Gender” and “Nijinska.” I could (did?) write a small book on the subject of Nijinska and gender right now . . . but relating it to “election” (which today is representing the democratic process, the process of government coming out of decisions made by masses, people casting votes and their laws and leaders coming up out of that process. . . maybe it’s just because it is right above “emergent taxonomy” but democracy is intended to be emergent) . . . Nijinska’s two most significant works were Les Noches (which you can see videos of in a previous post) and Les Biches (of which only accounts remain). Both were profound social commentaries on gender, the former an examination of the oppression that was (is?) intrinsic to the institution of marriage, specifically in peasant Russia, the latter which protested gender roles by radically reconstructing and redefining them in a vibrant cast of characters that addressed a range of social taboos, including narcissism, voyeurism, lesbianism, gender ambiguity, group sex, etc. 
My first thought from this juxtaposition has to do with same-sex marriage in this country. This is an issue that should not get quiet. I think about Prop. 8 and how America is systematically outlawing (but thankfully not without avid resistance) marriage between individuals of the same sex. And I think about Nijinska’s commentary on marriage in Les Noches, how the individuals were simply swept away by the tide of social expectation, in which marriage had nothing to do with love, mutuality of feeling, or even the individuals involved. Instead, marriages were arranged by families in order to provide the groom’s family with a new worker, the bride. So much more severe is the oppression of the bride, who is stripped from her family, her mother, and handed over to her “new” family. But the oppression is no respecter of gender, because desire of the groom is also discounted. he becomes merely the vehicle through which to expand the family, by adding a bride and, by implication in the ballet’s last image, the wedding bed, children.
I can’t help but draw connections between Nijinska’s perception and representation of marriage, and the perception/representation of marriage in America today. Inversely, America seems to say that the ‘oppression’ of marriage is a respecter of gender, because it is an oppression of exclusion based on gender. It somehow maintains  a disconnection from love, mutuality of feeling, and the individuals. Likely married heterosexual couples would disagree. They would say that do love one another, that it was by their own election to marry and to consecrate their relationship in this institution. I would ask them to recognize that while that may be true, clearly that is not the reason they are married, because our country is legislatively stating that those factors are not enough to be married. To married you must before all else be a man and a woman; that remains the essential component. You can be married without love, without mutuality of feelings, or likely even without the election to such state by the individuals in involved (I think of couples who get married to please their parents, or out of pressure by their spouse, etc.). In looking at the role of gender in the decisions being made in our country through the lens of Nijinska, I have to say I am a bit startled. Her piece was staged in 1923 in Europe. How bizarre that despite all of our social progress, connections can still be made between the society, marriage, and treatment of gender then to now.

-I see “Love” situated right in the middle of the list . . . and it seems simple to see an ideal portrait of all that surrounds it as an emanation of this central concern. Love in our listening. Love in our research. Love in our art and the appreciation of/participation in the art of others. Love in the Art Lab. Love in our elections, our democracy emerging from love rather than discrimination and hate. Love in our dance, our collaboration, our choreography. Love in our anxiety. Love in our marriage. Love in our technology. In our Yoga.
Clearly that is an ideal. It raises the question from where do all these things emanate? What is situated at “the heart of things,” as it were? What are the underlying values that we are privileging in the work we do, the way we work, the things we research, the kind of nation we are building?  As we participate in emergent processes, what is it we bring to that field of potentialities, and from where do our contributions come from?

 

I think these are good thoughts, good connections here at the end of the quarter. New ideas arising out of the ideas that have been catalogued here.

Lastly, check out the new blogs in my blog role. An array of different voices, mostly my colleagues, each with a different approach to blogging, with spectacular ideas to contribute to your own emergent taxonomy today.



La Luna Incantata
7 December, 2008, 12:03 pm
Filed under: Dance | Tags: , , ,

A friend posted this video on her blog yesterday, and I was completely undone by it.

I felt like it addresses so much of what I am reading and writing and thinking about right now, not to mention the dances that I have been presenting recently. As I think I have mentioned, I am writing a paper on the effects of Nijinsky and Nijinska on the presentation and perception of gender in the early 20th century ballet. This dance reminded me so much of Nijinska’s Les Biches which did not survive (we do not have the choreography, although there have been reconstructions). Les Biches is full of characters, the Garconne (the mannish woman), the Hostess (who is dressed as a man), the Girl in Blue, the Girls in Gray (a sapphist set), the Men (who are full of bravado, and themselves), etc. This dance evoked all of that for me. It’s a nice juxtaposition to flow from Nijinska into this piece by Fabrizio Monteverde.

I am also thinking about choreographing a new piece for the spring, a duet examining erotic desire and inverting the “gaze,” perhaps even framing this exploration in the structure of a classical pas de deux. It may become a trio as well. . . I am interested in exploring the layers of watching and voyeurism and the implication of power through the process of watching. Perhaps there might even be room in the piece to not only explore this concept choreographically, but also structurally, raising questions about the audience/performer relationship. What does it mean that the dancers are watched by the audience? Is there the same implications of power when one puts oneself on display?

Anyway, this video dance not only addresses almost all of those subjects, but also functions as a stunning film. Incredibly well done and inspiring on this Sunday morning. I hope you take five minutes to watch it. And remember, there are videos of Nijinska’s Les Noches in my previous post, and even though it is around 25 minutes, I think it is well worth your time.