Magazine article Dance Magazine

No Hidden Agenda

Magazine article Dance Magazine

No Hidden Agenda

Article excerpt

The recent increase in performers appearing onstage sans clothing has offended and confused many audiences. This is not a return to 1970s seeking, which was done for its shock effect, nor is it a boycott of fashionistas-cum-costume-designers. It is about dancers doing what artists do--making meaning.

In painting, that meaning may be a paean to the grace and beauty of the arrangement of the human body itself, sometimes reclining, sometimes in flight, sometimes dancing or running. Through a more abstract eye, it may be the deconstruction of the idea of the body as it is fractured into body parts (some of which don't quite fit back together). In photography, it may be a revelation of the magnificence of skin tones or the muscular development of an excellent athlete (for example, note the glorious photographs of Bill T. Jones in this issue, on the cover and starting on page 28). In dance, it is likely to reflect the movement possibilities that arise when the body is unimpeded by billowing sleeves, flowing skirts or trousers, or elaborate head and foot gear.

Dancers and choreographers learn early in their training to view bodies as their instruments, as their vehicle for making dance art or for gaining the oohs and ahhs of an audience. Like any instrument, the body must be cleaned and oiled and fine-tuned to maintain its highest performance potential. In this process, there develops a certain distance between the self and the instrument--between "I," the self, and "my body" or "my feet," a part of the instrument. With this distance, dancers are able to make their instruments graceful or awkward, comic or tragic, naked or clothed--perhaps more readily than your ordinary man on the street. …

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