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Archive for January 17th, 2012

Kudo at Kingsbury

Have you ever seen this video before?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3SFHjfAOl4]
Baryshnikov and…. Elaine Kudo. The Elaine Kudo who just today spent 3 hours at the Marriott Center for Dance, auditioning dancers for an upcoming performance of Twyla Tharp’s “Sweet Fields” that will be performed with a live orchestra at Kingsbury Hall. Kudo will be setting “Sweet Fields” on 12 dancers (6 men, 6 women) for the next few weeks in an intensive rehearsal process.
So what is a dancer who danced with Baryshnikov like? Exacting in specificity. Beautiful even when marking movement. Intimidating as hell.
I will be interviewing Kudo in the next few weeks (once I stop stumbling over my words trying to carry on a conversation with her)….look for that interview on this blog. Do you have any questions you would like me to ask? Post them to the comments box and get your answers!
Sofia Strempek

stop talking like this about women’s bodies

It is no secret that I care a lot about the representation of women within modes of performance but also within the documentation of performance.
So when I read this today in the NYTimes I was, needless to say, frustrated & angry.

If you read the article, Brian Seibert brings up some interesting questions about the choreography by Yvonne Meier in Mad Heidi. Emphasis on some. For example, I think when looking at a solo work talking about issues of choreography being disparate over time is something interesting to consider – in positive or negative ways.

HOWEVER:
Why pepper that criticism with commentary like “a big girl in braids.” First of all, will no one learn Alistair Macaulay’s lesson about making comments on the female body unrelated to actual critique? Where do I begin to explain why “big girl in braids” is not something a responsible journalist should use in this situation?
I guess I’ll start with the fact “girl” is not an appropriate description of an adult performer, specifically one that performs aggressive feats throughout the dance. Then I can go on to add that people will tell me up and down that “big” can mean a number of things other than “too big” but “big girl” really only means one thing and it’s not something related to this dance or this dancer.

Moving on I find it unusual that a reviewer would suggest a performer could solve the problems they found within the dance. I have written reviews for this blog, as have others, that have ultimately expressed a negative opinion about some work. Never would I suggest that a better performer could have solved what I found to be structural inconsistencies or unclear concepts within a work — instead I would try to characterize what those issues were and how they impacted my viewing of the performance. This information also lacks context. The dance being reviewed has been performed multiple times by several different performers. If the issues Brian highlights could have, in fact, been solved by Emily, he would have been able to highlight the ways in which viewing these alternative performances rendered a different reading or impression. Instead he just presumes she was unable to solve them, a burden that is unfair as she is performing a clearly complete, historical in it’s own right, dance.

Call it choreographically disparate. Say that you feel it was disjointed. Say whatever else you want in context.
Those issues could be responded to with simple disagreement, an alternative opinion or consideration of a new perspective.

But don’t call my immensely talented colleague and friend a big girl with braids. Don’t make pole dance jokes and then accuse her of not fixing the dance she is in.
Don’t say she resists stereotypes in her performance and then stereotype her at every turn.

Stop talking about women’s bodies in dance in this way. Please, stop.