Troop - Looking at the Showgirl 

FRIDAY 25th May at 2pm - 4pm : London Met

A performance sharing and discussion event which examined the theatricalised female form and the power of that dancing line.

The event was part of a performance research project by choreographer Jane Turner in collaboration with writer Andrea Stuart and included a cast of highly skilled performers and leading contemporary artists.

This event included performance presentations, chaired plenary and discussion, audience Q & A and informal networking opportunities. Chair for the afternoon was Lucy O'Brien, journalist and author of She-Bop, whose latest book is a biography of Madonna.

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An erotic, exotic projection evolving in time, the Showgirl is a chameleon who adapts to fit the frame. Glorying in the viewer¹s gaze she returns the stare. En masse, an impenetrable line of flesh, pattern and vigour dances to the relentless rhythm of industrialised society.

The line wields power, aggression, but also linds the dancers to repetition, sameness and exposure. These paradoxes yield interweaving narratives of identity, desire and difference.

- Are the women behind the showgirl mask exploited or?
- Who are they behind the impenetrable smile?
- Has the deconstructed/non-theatrical nature of postmodern dance made women invisable? If so can the traditional masks of 'Showgirls' be used to give power to female contemporary exprssion?

- Can burlesque be more than entertainment?
- What structures keep the dancing line moving and developing.

Reaearchers will use: Andrea Stuart's definitive study Showgirls (Jonathan Cape 1996) contemporary takes on showdancing; extensive research material/ interviews with showgirls past; texts by sometime showgirl writers such as Collette and Jean Rhys; use systems-based choreographic structures to layer movement and text; consider current showgirls like Kylie, Madonna and their impact; allow material explored to generate towards a performance sharing; discuss, debate, evaluate.

This event was supported by The Facility at LMU and is part of an arts council funded project that will go into full performance production in the summer leading to a tour of the Eastern Region in the autumn leading to its final performance at the Purcell Room, SBC, 6 December.

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