PARADOX OF THE DANCING MALE BODY
Updated: May 5
In a country like India where we worship Lord Shiva as 'Nataraja', the ultimate God of dance, we reject the dancing bodies of men is somehow considered a taboo although woman personification has been a revered part of our historical performing art traditions. Male dancers with male bodies transform on stage to create for the ‘rasikas’ the magic or divinity of the female characters portrayed beyond the ‘humane’ body of the real artist. Respected dance luminaries have performed in ‘streevesham’ and I have wondered how ideas of gender, identity, and sexuality are explored through this staged transformation.
I take off from this point of conflict of social and artistic representation of gender and physical form where we try to understand the comfort and discomfort of the artistic representation of the ‘female’ by ‘male’ bodies. In a country of ‘ardhanariswara’ and the balance of ‘purusa’ and ‘prakriti’ and the likes, this patriarch prototype and social norming ideologies becomes a paradox where it’s difficult to understand whether it is the 'feminism' or 'representation of the same in male bodies which become a problem!
Also its quite interesting aspect for me as a practitioner of contemporary dance here in India where 'male dancing' has become quite fashionable. And female dancing becomes problem as dance is physical and sexual and whose open expression becomes an issue for many families and peers.
It is also an aspect of study that even today we keep a lot of difference in the upbringing of boys and girls in our family and specially girls through deep socio religious norming we teach them a deep rejection of their body where body becomes a premise of guilt, sin and sexuality which can’t be expressed or opinionated making it a huge taboo. While the idiom of my organic Contemporary dance form makes this very body as the basic premise to create, negotiate and articulate making the huge chaotic energy within to get an aesthetic outlet which transform the context of body itself.
This later makes a lot of difference to self-esteem, confidence, and value of body itself for woman and also pansy feminine men who empowers them not just as dancing skills but a new insight for them to change their psyche and confront the social norming.
This empowerment through dance changes lives, tells new stories and helps to emerge a new generation of confident men and women...