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Dancing like a girl: physical competence and emotional vulnerability in professional contemporary dance

Purser, Aimie Christianne Elizabeth.

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Abstract

The analysis presented here is based on a phenomenological interview study conducted with sixteen professional contemporary dancers, and focuses on the differences between the accounts of male and female dancers with regard to notions of openness in dance and to associated feelings of emotional vulnerability and metaphorical ‘nakedness’ or exposure. In a way that is reminiscent of Young’s (1980) description of ‘throwing like a girl’, such feelings of vulnerability and accompanying self-consciousness were considerably more noticeable in the accounts of the female dancers, tending to emerge when dancers were asked to express something of a personal or private nature through dance in the presence of others.
This paper explores potential resonances between feminine throwing experience as conceptualised by Young (1980) and female dancing experience for my interviewees. Significantly, however, it moves beyond a direct parallel with Young’s (1980) work to explore this sense of vulnerability in a context where female dancers did not display the reduced physical competencies typical of ‘throwing like a girl’. The article further suggests that the dualist concepts of transcendence and immanence may not be appropriate for understanding the experience of dance, including its gendered dimensions, and that we should instead look to theorising dancing body-subjectivity in ways that attend to the blurring of the boundaries of such binaries.

Citation

Purser, A. C. E. (2017). Dancing like a girl: physical competence and emotional vulnerability in professional contemporary dance. Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal, 25(2), https://doi.org/10.1123/wspaj.2016-0027

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 16, 2017
Publication Date Oct 1, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 26, 2017
Publicly Available Date Oct 1, 2017
Journal Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
Print ISSN 1063-6161
Electronic ISSN 1938-1581
Publisher Human Kinetics
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 2
DOI https://doi.org/10.1123/wspaj.2016-0027
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/43758
Publisher URL http://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/10.1123/wspaj.2016-0027
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf
Additional Information Accepted author manuscript version reprinted, by permission, from Human Kinetics Journal, 2017, volume 25 (issue 2): pp 105-110, https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1123/wspaj.2016-0027. © Human Kinetics, Inc.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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