Performance examines pop culture

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USING elements of dance, theatre and performance art, If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming is a visual collage of the different ways in which popular culture deals with women’s bodies.

The show has been created and will be performed by Auckland-based Julia Croft and is directed by Virginia Frankovich.

“At its core it’s really simply about the treatment of women’s bodies in popular culture,” Croft said.

Women’s bodies were often shown from the point of view of the male characters and the camera was often complicit in viewing the female body in a certain way that was male centric or objectifying the female body, she said.

She wanted to help make people more aware about how the objectification of women happened on an overt and covert level.

“Sometimes we’re not even really aware of it.”

There was also a tendency in film, music videos and advertising to feature violence against women.

“We’re kind of trained from a very early age I think to see women’s bodies as objects, or see women’s bodies as something that maybe men feel… on some level that they have access to.”

The work mainly looked at mainstream United States films because those were the films she grew up watching, Croft said.

She felt there were often problems with the way women were represented, and it was often men writing the scripts and deciding how the scenes were shot, she said.

“I think I was really influenced by an essay by a feminist film critic called Laura Mulvey and she pioneered the term ‘the male gaze’.”

She said she wanted younger women, who had grown up with the internet and a more saturated image culture, to have critical skills to look at the material they were being shown.

“I’m not saying stop watching Titanic, because I’ll never stop watching Titanic, it’s amazing. But at least be critical about the messaging you’re getting.”

The show opened up a conversation for its audience, she said.

“And surprisingly for men, which is unexpected and really delightful.

“It really opens up a space for everyone, I hope.”

Although it had serious themes, the show was also a comedy, she said.

“The last 15 minutes are quite serious, but the first 40 minutes or so are pretty light and hopefully very funny.

“My work is often comedic but it comes from quite a serious place… It is really an accessible piece of work that I think people have, from all over the world, really loved, so I hope Invercargill comes and likes it, too.”

If There’s Not Dancing at the Revolution, I’m Not Coming, Repertory House, Wednesday, May 9, and Thursday, May 10, 7.30pm. Book at TicketDirect. Note: The show contains nudity and themes include violence and sexual violence.

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