It’s Current!

Alrighty readers I have something special for you today! Here is a New York Times news article by Gia Kourlas titled “Looking at Intimacy, for Bodies and Minds,” and for all of you who don’t want to follow this post just because you don’t feel like it or whatever your reason may be I have so kindly copied it below. Enjoy!

Looking at Intimacy, for Bodies and Minds

 Desire, as the choreographer Gesel Mason knows, is only one part of sex. Another may be guilt. Or insecurity. Or shame. But what’s wrong with being an independent spirit and sleeping with whomever you want? In “Women, Sex, & Desire: Sometimes You Feel Like a Ho, Sometimes You Don’t,” which opened at the Joyce SoHo on Thursday evening, Ms. Mason explores sexual behavior using two extremes — the whore and the prude — as a starting point. 

The work, Ms. Mason said, is both a performance and a discussion about the joys and frustrations of being a sexual creature. (The creative process included focus groups exploring topics brought up in “Women, Sex & Desire.”)

But while the piece centers on women, the issues this production raises — not including the preshow workshop and the post-performance discussion — are universal. If there was a point, it may have something to do with how sexual behavior defies rigid categories. Forgive me for not being sure: It was a long night of sharing feelings. At the same time, it all seemed fairly obvious.

Ms. Mason is an engaging presence, but her meandering, getting-to-know-you exercises and chatty line of questioning were oppressive. She enforced a communal vibe from the start. Since, as Ms. Mason said, the topic had to do with intimacy, she began the show by asking us to introduce ourselves to our neighbors. Next we were asked to make eye contact with someone else in the room: “Just take a moment,” she said, “to see someone.” (Place the emphasis on the word “see” to get the full picture.)

The final demand? Making physical contact with that person. Admittedly, the sight of strangers hugging one another almost made me lose my mind. Mostly, this was an eager crowd; one flaw of the work is how it relies too heavily on an audience that knows what’s expected of it.

In between the live discussions and video interviews with women about sex, there are passages of dancing. Kayla Hamilton offers a frenzied solo, during which she pulls an apple out of her ample bosom, takes a bite and throws it into the crowd.

Ms. Mason, blindfolded and naked, seems to lose her inhibitions when the humiliation of being observed is removed. Ching-I Chang performs a lazy striptease with the help of a banana and Prince’s “Darling Nikki.” And Courtney Cooke appears as Cinderella, showing that appearances aren’t everything.

Despite the sex talk and, of course, the apple, there was little bite to this show, which made me pine for Ann Liv Young and her alter ego, Sherry, who knows how to play off of strangers — while talking about feelings — and get somewhere profound.

Ms. Mason wanted a safe environment where people could expose their vulnerability, but it turned into polite therapy, making this evening feel more like a Lifetime special about female empowerment than like anything resembling a work of art.

And there you go! I would have really enjoyed going to a show like this, but that may be just because I am a dancer and can easily relate to that sort of situation. I watched the trailer that I have posted for you all, and just from that little taste of the show I saw a lot of art, not just in the dancing, but also in the way the show was focused around the women being active and aware of their sexuality.  I have to disagree with Kourlas when she says that she felt the evening was more “like a Lifetime special about female empowerment than like anything resembling a work of art” because the way I see dance is if the message is gotten across to your audience and there is a connection between the performer and observer then the artist has accomplished their goal and it is a successful work of art.

I don’t mean to bag on Kourlas, but I’m pretty sure she is just clueless to a dancer’s artistic frame of mind and comfort zone. She obviously felt uncomfortable with the tasks that Ms. Mason asked them to do with their neighbors.  They had to introduce themselves, make eye contact, and then make physical contact. Dancers are used to this kind of activity because we do it every day of our lives. For example we meet our partner that we are dancing with and five minutes later we are required to dance with them as if you were in love for years. We live for that freedom to express ourselves in any emotion and to make that connection with others. I know that my comfort zone is not too big especially around other dancers who are willing to open up just as much. Kourlas sees it as a flaw that the work relied on an audience that knew what was expected of it, but I see it is if you go in knowing what is expected then you can open up and explore your mind that much more without having to worry about surprises. As a woman and as a dancer it is great to explore your emotions with others around you without having to worry about judgment or scrutinizing.

Let me know what you guys think!

 

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