12.20.2011

finishing up the last paper of the semester...



Questions are important because the way we manage problems begins with how we 
express the problem in questions.”  -Drid Williams



"What the investigation of a piece like Radha can provide is an example of the necessity of unraveling the multiple strains of ideological meaning that are present in any work of performance and that are variously activated in specific viewing situations.  For instance, similar doublings of race, exotica, and sexuality are played out in Josephine Baker’s famous “banana dance.”  As a black woman, however, her construction as “exotic” never played as successfully in North America as in Europe.

As we reconsider the canon of dance history and integrate it with gender studies, it is not enough to ask how St. Denis conceived of her work, or how it relates to the dance history that precedes and follows it.  Nor is it enough to ask how St. Denis’s work reflected the changing roles of women in her day, or to note stylistic similarities between dance and other types of artistic products in the same historical period.  All of these investigations produce valuable information and should not be ignored.  But as scholars we must also look more deeply at the mechanisms of meaning on which the performance hinges and investigate the role of live display of the female body in activating those mechanisms...  Only by more fully comprehending the production of ideology in every sphere of social construction, including the female body in performance, can we begin to sever the invisible links that bind racism, sexism, and cultural imperialism so tightly together."

 -Jane Desmond from her article "Dancing Out the Difference: Cultural Imperialism and Ruth St. Denis's Radha of 1906" 



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