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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

By the Books: Kate Weare’s Dark Lark

by Jessica Goldschmidt

NBA coach and 11-time champion Phil Jackson assigns reading material to his players to maximize performance, enhance personal development, and give them something to do instead of hitting gentleman’s clubs until the wee hours before game nights.

For possibly more dramaturgical reasons, inaugural BAM Fisher artist-in-residence Kate Weare does the same. Weare assigned her dancers relevant reading material during the creation process of her newest work, Dark Lark—though because the show is a meditation on sexual fantasy and the stage as a space for social self-creation, the texts Weare landed on are probably much more scintillating than anything Phil Jackson would have chosen to inspire his Lakers.

Below you’ll find a short compilation of Kate Weare’s non-required reading, with selected quotes to get you thinking about the politics and cathartic promise of desire, the nuances of role play, and the therapeutic potential of sexual fantasy.

1. Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel
Traditionally, the therapeutic culture has favored the spoken word over the expressiveness of the body. Yet sexuality and emotional intimacy are two separate languages. I would like to restore the body to its rightful prominent place in discussion about couples and eroticism. The body often contains emotional truths that words can too easily gloss over. The very dynamics that are a source of conflict in a relationship—particularly those pertaining to power, control, dependency, and vulnerability—often become desirable when experienced through the body and eroticized. Sex becomes both a way to illuminate conflicts and confusion around intimacy and desire and a way to begin to heal these destructive splits. Each partner’s body, imprinted as it is with the individual’s history and culture’s admonitions, becomes a text to be read by all of us together.
2. Arousal by Michael J Bader
Domination fantasies frequently involve attempts to circumvent the chilling effects of guilt and worry on sexual desire. Such fantasies are prevalent among both men and women, and obviously entail two roles in such scenarios, the "top" and the "bottom." … There are many variations on the theme of a woman arranging a fantasy in which she can let go of her inhibitions about being too strong. Though the manifest script often puts her in a passive position, the underlying unconscious message is that she is guilty about being too much for a weak, limited, or inadequate man.

3. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
‘It’s a pleasure,’ said Anna. ‘But do you know something? I discovered while you were away that for a lot of people you and I are practically interchangeable.’

‘You’ve only just understood that?’ said Molly, triumphant as always when Anna came up with—as far as she was concerned—facts that were self-evident.

In this relationship a balance had been struck early on: Molly was altogether more worldly-wise than Anna who, for her part, had a superiority of talent.

Anna held her own private views. Now she smiled, admitting that she had been very slow. 
‘When we’re so different in every way,’ said Molly, ‘it’s odd. I suppose because we both live the same kind of life—not getting married and so on. That’s all they see.’

‘Free women,’ said Anna, wryly. She added, with an anger new to Molly, so that she earned another quick scrutinizing glance from her friend: ‘They still define us in terms of relationships with men, even the best of them.’

4. The article “Love on the March: Reflections on the gay community’s political progress—and its future” by Alex Ross

“The trickiest component of gay-male culture is the role of women in its midst. Feminist critics have long detected misogynist mockery in drag acts and in gay men’s howling response to melodramatic scenes that were not intended to be funny, such as Joan Crawford’s verbal annihilation of her aloof, ingrate daughter in “Mildred Pierce.” Halperin, like many before him, sees a more complex identification at work. Crawford maintains a flawlessly high pitch as she gyrates between “feminine glamour” and “feminine abjection,” and the typical gay male viewer may feel at home at both extremes: so many gay kids work at presenting a perfected surface to the world, and so many are hounded by the fear that some grotesque exposure will tear it down.  
At the same time, the plunge into abjection can be liberating—“the politics of emotion,” Halperin calls it, of “losing it,” of “righteous, triumphant fury.” (That young man at the Jack in the Box, despite his frat-boy affect, had a Joan Crawford quality.) Furthermore, as the feminist theorist Judith Butler has argued, these extravagant diva turns, and, more particularly, the drag acts that perpetuate them, reveal the artificiality of conventional gender roles, the “hyperbolic status of the norm itself.” As Halperin puts it, “every identity is a role or an act.” It’s just that straight-male performance is granted instant authenticity. Super Bowl Sunday, seen from a certain angle, is a pageant as intricate and contrived as the annual invasion of the drag queens on Fire Island.”
Dark Lark runs Nov 6—9 at BAM Fisher.

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