CriticalDance Forum

Nudity in Dance
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Author:  Dance Nut [ Sat Nov 06, 1999 7:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Nudity in Dance

This is an offshoot from the interesting discussion about MOMIX in the Modern Performances forum.<P>My questions: is nudity always necessary? Is nudity sometimes used to spur sales? If a topless work is performed, must there be an age limit? Should the audience be warned before hand?

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Nov 07, 1999 8:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

What a titillating title for a thread. I have to say that I am not usually offended or even aroused by nudity in dance or any other type of performance. What I do find provocative are sexual scenes, such as "coupling" sequences or "disrobing" acts. The most frightening was the rape in Kenneth MacMillan's "The Invitation." Now, *that* was uncomfortable to watch.<P>When I see nudity in dance, I tend to give the choreographer the benefit of the doubt but there are times when I have asked myself whether it's really necessary.

Author:  Michael [ Wed Nov 17, 1999 5:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

This is a bit of an offshoot topic, but the photographer Howard Schatz photographed many ballet dancers in the nude. One of his books, Waterdance, was photographed underwater. <P>Several of the dancers Schatz photographed are or were in Bay Area companies, including Nikolai Kabanaiev, Katita Waldo, Deirde Chapman, Tiffany Heft, Susan Tidball, and so on. <P>I wonder if this subject would make for a good interview with some of the dancers and with Schatz. How did Schatz come up with the idea? Why did the dancers decide to pose nude and/or underwater? What did they think of the photos aesthetically and as dance? Did the three-dimensional underwater medium allow for greater creative expression than a two-dimensional stage? How did they interact with or relate to the other dancers in the sessions? How were partners selected? How did Schatz conduct the photo sessions? etc. <BR>

Author:  Mikal [ Sat Nov 20, 1999 4:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

On the thread of nudity. Has anyone heard any more about the courts deciding if nude dancing is going to be outlawed in the US?<BR>It was all over the news for a couple of days, and then dropped.<BR>Anyone more informed on this than me???<P>------------------<BR>bek

Author:  Azlan [ Sat Nov 20, 1999 9:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

I didn't even know they were considering outlawing nudity in dance... Gosh, what is the deal here?

Author:  pidge [ Sun Nov 21, 1999 12:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

Michael,<P>I think you've touched upon some great interview material. I've always loved dance photography, in the way it captures stills from a live art form. I have seen the book you were referring to, and loved the fluidity in the pictures. My friend has it, and the first time I saw it, I said, 'it look's like they are underwater!' and he said, they are!<P>Banning nude dancing? Isn't that against peoples constitutional rights?<P>pidge

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Nov 21, 1999 9:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

Yes, these are indeed interesting interview ideas...

Author:  Albrecht [ Sun Nov 28, 1999 10:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

Nudity will not work in classical ballet (Australian National Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet have done works with nudity but these are more contemporary ballet). It would distract the beauty and spirit of ballet. Can you imagine if Giselle decides to bare her chest on stage? It would distort her personality entirely.<P>I may be proved wrong, as you never know what Bourne, Kudelka or Forsythe are up to.

Author:  Azlan [ Mon Oct 30, 2000 7:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

Perhaps it's time to bring this topic up again with several companies on tour performing works with nudity.<P>At a performance of one of those works, Bill T Jones' "You Walk?," a friend asked me if nudity is common in dance. I guess he had never seen nudity on stage before. So, is it common?<P>In the post-performance discussion, the dancers thought it empowered them onstage even if they were at first uncomfortable. One thought it was more comfortable in front of some audiences than others and it made her feel in control when she had the choice. However, a ballet dancer with another company I talked to later that night said she would never dance in the nude; she cannot understand the artistic reasoning for nudity.<P>Another issue also is why do we see nudity only for female dancers. Bill T answered that by saying male privates are far more distracting than female ones (even if he has created works with male nudity). Both the men and the women in the audience seemed to agree with him.<P>Thoughts?

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Mon Oct 30, 2000 7:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

Regrding the male/female thing. A few years ago, there was an exhibiton at London's Photographer's Gallery of male nudes by some of the leading photographers of the 20th Century. As one female reviewer commented, the male nude is rather featureless compared with the female and the recurring question in each of the photos was, do you see <B>it</B> or don't you? <P>As readers of this board will know it's sometimes seemed difficult to avoid performances with male nudes in London over the past month or so.<P>The best work on these lines I saw was by the dancers from NDT touring independently one Summer. Thre was a piece with about 8 clothed women and one totally nude man. The only stage lighting, as far as I could see, was from torches held by the women. All was very discreet and tantalising until the end of this 5 minute work when the male came to a halt and all 8 torches shone precisely on <B>it</B>.<P>My 75 year old Mum laughed fit to burst.<P>Momix and Pilobolus sometimes use topless dancers and I have to say it has suited the physicality of their dance style in my view. <p>[This message has been edited by Stuart Sweeney (edited October 30, 2000).]

Author:  Basheva [ Mon Oct 30, 2000 5:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

I wonder if there are legal issues here in the United States. I think that municipalities - counties and cities - often set up laws regarding nudity in strip bars and such. They often require just something at a minimum to cover up. I wonder what the law says about nudity on a stage rather than in a strip show.<P>In our society women are often much more undressed than men. In a formal setting a woman's gown will often be off the shoulder - or cut quite low - while for formal male attire it is just the opposite. He will be in shirt, vest, cutaway tuxedo, cumberbund, etc.<P>Also in parades - in bands and cheerleaders the guys are almost always in long trousers and jackets while the girls are in short (very short) skirts. Interesting dichotomy.<P> Sometimes I see New Year's parades where on a really cold day the girls are still in very short skirts - while the guys are nice and warm in long trousers. HA HA

Author:  salzberg [ Tue Oct 31, 2000 1:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

There is no law currently under consideration that would outlaw nude dancing throughout the entire US; such an action would require a constitutional amendment. There are a few local laws that are currently under review by the courts.<BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Oct 31, 2000 6:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

I believe in San Diego County there is a law that in a strip show - the dancers have to wear "something" - however minor that might be. I could be wrong about this - but that is how I remember it. I realize that there is no "national" law - but if a county had such a law - I suppose that could affect theater dance as well as strip shows.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Tue Oct 31, 2000 7:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

It reminds me of the Jane Dudley story concerning Martha Graham when she was performing her solos in vaudeville shows. There was quite a bit of friction between Graham and the vaudeville showgirls, who felt that Graham got special treatment.<P>In Chicago, I think, there was strict enforcement of decency and a couple of policemen had the onerous task of checking backstage that the girls in the show were wearing knickers. As they completed their task, one indignant hoofer pointed at Graham and said, 'What about checking her?'<P>'That's OK.', said the Officer, 'She's Art.'

Author:  trog [ Thu Nov 02, 2000 6:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nudity in Dance

In David Bintley's "Still Life At the Penguin Cafe", the lady native is topless; well on the video by the Royal Ballet she is, I have seen the Birmingham Royal Ballet dance this loads of times and the lady native wears a see-through top. Anyway, this ballet works very well; the semi-nudity does not distract from the beauty and spirit of the ballet. In fact I didn't really notice it until my third performance.

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