Monday, April 22, 2013

Beauty is (poked) in the eye

I'm showing "Puzzling Pieces" in Allentown this weekend. In the spirit of the research, I couldn't ignore posting this project sponsored by Dove. (I realize that they may have a marketing agenda, but it's honest in that I can at least imagine these being real women and not actors.)

In other performance research, Kun-Yang had us writing our dancing stories during one rehearsal. Although I encourage and demand that my students think of and articulate their own dancing stories, admitting to my own is quite vulnerable and painful. So I began...

"I was never told I was a beautiful dancer until I was 18 and working with a professional modern dance company. The artistic director was setting a solo on me and made a side comment - 'You're such a beautiful dancer....'  there was more to that because he was giving me a note, but I didn't hear anything else. I burst into tears. He was really startled and confused. 'No one's ever said I was a beautiful dancer.' " (Excluding my  parents... they have an understandable bias).

I received a note from a fellow dancer a few days later, "Jess... it made me so sad to hear your story. Please know that you are beautiful, inside and out."


These interviews are interesting. Revealing. Honest. And demand that we re-think our perception of ourselves and the perceptions we allow to exist.

On another, related note... I was listening to a story on NPR's Morning Edition, regarding the role of women in the workplace in developing countries as part of their Special Series: the changing lives of women.

"In India, 11 percent of CEO's of the top companies are female," economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett tells NPR's Renee Montagne. "The figure here (in the US) is 3 percent. In Brazil, 12 percent of CEO's are female. It's also a country with a female head of state. So we have to understand that in some ways, women in these emerging markets are pointing the way....

Hewlett says that what American women need most is a change in the narrative. 'I remember very clearly going to a Wall Street Journal conference, and Andrea Jung, the then-CEO of Avon, was speaking. She's an incredibly impressive person....' Hewlett says. ' instead of talking about the joys of success and what it felt like to be such an admired world leader with extraordinary leverage and influence in the lives of you know, 4 million employees, she chose to talk about what she had given up in terms of being close to her children.... No male leader does that. I feel that many of us are still mired in some of the expectations of the 1950's, that we're expected to be self-sacrificial in our public voice. As so it's unseemly for a woman to glory in power. We need to get over that.'"


Listen/ read the whole story here:  Professional Women in Emerging Markets

And on the third hand, if I had a third hand, I want to acknowledge that there are males that probably feel similarly. Recently, I was having a conversation about "Embedded Layers" and the future of the process. "Would you ever consider including men?" My male counter-part asked. Yes, of course, I responded. But right now, I can only speak from my experiences and I'm a woman. I feel it's important to acknowledge that there are differences between male and female, and differences within those populations in respect to life experiences, maturity, time, age, location, socio-economic status, education, family.... This process, this project (the embodiment project) is a long exploration that's just begun.

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