The tyranny of the perfect body
A new teacher straight from company life as a dancer for a famous (and notoriously cruel) choreographer pinches me and says “just a little everywhere”. I am in first year university.
At 20 I hear a fellow dance student complaining about her body. I say “I wish I had a body like yours.” She says, “I wish I could dance like you.”
In my mid-twenties I started working out at the gym (on top of dancing all the time) because I was getting married and aware that there would be a lot of photos of me that day.
At the end of my twenties I bought a string bikini because I thought that my moment for wearing one was about to end.
Someone once said to me that it was too bad I wasn’t born in the Renaissance because my body would have been considered beautiful, then.
A multidisciplinary performance programmer remarked to me that she was sick of seeing only “perfect bodies” in dance.
At 40 I started to take my clothes off onstage.
I taught this sparkly girl from the time she was 4 to 14. Last month she died from an eating disorder at age 23.
I look at pictures of myself at different ages and see how good, fit, un-fat, buff, I looked. I remember how consumed I was by body image. Feeling shame that I wasn’t skinny enough, buff enough. How much energy have I wasted on hating my body?
I made SideShow, inspired by my impression of this photo of R.E.M's Michael Stipe with his pants around his ankles - taken in the 90's. The idea of a woman doing this felt…what: dangerous, transgressive, empowering?
I decided to find out.
Performing SideShow in Finland and Where Truth Lies in Mexico City this summer is making an impression on lots of new audience. Society puts so much pressure on women to conform to the beauty standards of the day. Dance even more so. I love dance but dance can be a cruel task master.