Self Portrait 6

 

“And it is in this ugly shell of my head, in this cage I do not like, that I have to reveal myself and walk around; through this grill I must speak, look and be looked at; under this skin I will have to rot. My body: it is the place without recourse to which I am condemned.” Michel Foucault.

“Dancers also develop an image of the idealized dancer they strive to become. By submitting to this image they compete not with other dancers but with their own image of what they might become.” Susan Leigh Foster

 

My body is an image. There are things I can’t change about my body: the fact that I look vaguely Asian, that I am aging, etc. There are many things that I don’t like about my body and which cannot be changed. My body is a statement I can’t always escape.

When I lend my body and the image it conveys to the context of the stage, I am symbol.

I can give the impression that I am at ease in space, self-assured, even if this is not true. My body is an actor: it has been trained to communicate emotion, it is the place where others can project ideas of freedom, power, grace, love, beauty, but also of loneliness, estrangement, weakness etc.

Where and how I position myself is a statement. My body is never neutral.

In real life, how I dress it, veil it or undress it is a statement. I apply make-up to cover imperfections, or to enhance certain features. I watch what I eat to remain reasonably fit. None of this is innocent.

What I put on my body tells you who I am: how much I make, to what social class I belong, if I believe in god. Because of the experience of the stage, I may be more aware of this than most.

I strive to remain in control of my body, and the image it gives you. I have spent years refining the physical messages that I send. But each passing day guides me back to the inevitable cage of its growing limits.

 

Sources

 

Michel Foucault “Le corps utopique”, radio broadcast by the Institut National d’Audiovisuel, Paris, 1966.

Susan Leigh Foster “Reading Dancing, Bodies and Subjects in Contemporary American Dance” University of California Press 1986

 

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