Last night I saw the most amazing modern dance performance.
It explored women’s eroticism.
Photo Credit: Ken Hamblin III
Created by Gesel Mason, a Boulder-based (and formerly DC-based) choreographer, the piece is called anthithesis. On her website, Mason has this to say:
“antithesis collides the genres, bodies, and cultures of postmodern dance and erotic dance in order to challenge how female sexuality is perceived, performed, and (re)presented. The project is an embodied attempt to explore and mine the erotic – the sometimes messy, gritty, tactile, growling, chaotic, passionate and tender edges of female sexual expression and creativity.”
Photo Credit: Kelly Shroads Photography
The piece, which is staged “in multiple venues (from the concert stage, to the strip club or an alternate space)” was inspired by an essay written by Audre Lorde, called Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power
In the essay, which I’ll speak about in a subsequent post, Lorde talks about eroticism as “an internal sense of satisfaction to which, once we have experienced it, we know we can aspire.”
The essay and the performance clarified something for me I’d been trying to articulate.
Reclaiming sexuality in the aftermath of violation is not really about orgasms. Though that’s certainly a part of it.
It’s about taking back our ability to feel fully alive: brain, breasts, belly (soft or pilates tight), hands (for reaching and receiving), pelvis (moving in circles but also supporting a healthy, strong back), and feet (to stand firmly on the earth).
It’s, ultimately, about being powerful.
As Lorde said: “Recognizing the power of the erotic within our lives can give us the energy to pursue genuine change within our world.”
Finding the erotic within can be as simple as asking yourself, deeply: “What would make me happy right now?” On this snowy, freezing day, what would make me happy is a hot lunch and staying inside all day—in my fuzzy slippers!
Here’s Audre Lorde reading her essay in the early 90s. There’s so much in this small piece of writing, enough to inspire an amazing dance performance. Maybe enough to inspire you too!