kfw, on Feb 2 2007, 12:20 PM, said:
Whether we experience it as interesting or distracting isn't really up to us; we can tell ourselves something is beautiful but we can't make ourselves perceive it that way. Over time our tastes may expand and we may find beauty where we'd missed it before, but in the meantime we're distracted, and even a "that's interesting" reaction is a distraction from the real subject matter at hand, the choreography. I like Bart's perform-it-twice rule. And some of us might need more viewings than that.
Before I continue, I want to be clear I'm not suggesting anyone perform swan lake or giselle etc in the nude! I agree that there are works (the entire classical repertoire for example!) where it simply does not work, and would really be distracting and interfere with enjoyment of the work.
That said, I actually don't see what you say above as any reason for omitting the nude in dance, especially not in more modern works.
Having nude dancers does not need to be merely sensationalist, but can be used to challenge these tastes and norms of beauty that are current in our culture. It can be an artistic statement, and to me art is not just about beauty, but can also serve to challenge an audience and make them think.
Using the naked body in this way is, to me, a very legitimate way of challenging an audience and causing them to think about what beauty is, and how it is perceived.
"even a "that's interesting" reaction is a distraction from the real subject matter at hand, the choreography"
I certainly can see what you mean here, and in some works (where the nudity seems pointless and gratiuitous) I would agree.
But you are assuming that the choreography and the nudity are not intrinsically intertwined. Perhaps the point of such a dance *IS* to challenge norms of beauty, and the choreography and nudity are working together to achieve that end...Wouldn't that be a valid goal for art?
I'm really not disagreeing with anything you said above, except that I think it an admirable and appropriate goal for art to act to change ideas of beauty.
(can you tell I'm a performer?)