Going through my posts, I decided to finish a thought from early 2014.
I attended a performance of the River North Dance Company. Luther College ensures that at least one professional modern dance company comes to campus each spring, adding variety to the cultural offerings on campus. MOMIX Botanica was Spring 2013’s show. Please take a moment to view the linked videos so as to lend context to the rest of my thoughts.
As a first-year, coming straight from the sexual mores of a rural Midwestern town, I was not comfortable watching modern dance performances. Too much nakedness, too many sexual movements. I wasn’t comfortable in 2013 either. In 2014, however, I found myself much more comfortable, seeing value in their movements. I was a year older, I had another’s year critiquing contemporary culture behind me, and my boundaries had expanded through vicarious and firsthand experiences.
As I analyzed the dancers’ movements, I realized that the dancers aren’t allowed their own personality. I was objectifying the dancers as performance instead of seeing them as people. The dances, choreographed by person(s) different than performers, express the choreographers’ ideas and vision. Thus, the creation of the dance is limited only by the physical ability of the dancers and the imagination of the choreographers. While the analysis allowed me to be comfortable during the more sexually charged dance pieces, I left the performance confused.
Am I, as an audience member paying to attend dance performances, supposed to see the performance as objectifying dancers in this way? Is there a right way to experience dance performances? How do we as audiences perceive the choreographer’s intentions? How does our varying comfort with physicality change how we experience dance performances? How do we reconcile objectifying dancers with avoiding objectification elsewhere? How do audience members with more traditional, staid sexual morals reconcile themselves with enjoying the physically liberal displays on stage?