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English National Ballet Artistic Director: Ballet is Like Porn

English National Ballet Artistic Director: Ballet is Like Porn

LOS ANGELES—Tamara Rojo, the new artistic director of the English National Ballet, gave an interview this week in which she compared the way in which male dancers and choreographers approach dance to the way in which they embrace pornography. Rather than denigrating porn outright, however, it seems that Rojo was trying to explain what she sees as a profound difference in the way in which men and women approach life.

Rojo, in her interview with Time Out magazine, was not prompted to make the porn-ballet analogy, but brought it up as she spoke about her intention to commission more female choreographers, according to the Telegraph.

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“Female sensitivity is different,” she said. “And there are issues that I want to see on stage approached by women. Very often we see relationships approached from a male perspective. Like in porn, it shapes the way you look at things.”

When Rojo was asked how a “porn-like male perspective” affected ballet performances, she replied, “It tends to be a more physical approach. Men start with the steps. I find women start with the emotional landscape. They say, ‘This is the situation; let’s find a language for it.’ With men, it tends to be, ‘this is the language,’ and then you try to work out the situation through the steps.”

Over at the Guardian, columnist Judith Mackrell finds Rojo’s theory interesting but “off the cuff,” and observes that there are “obvious exceptions in both ballet and modern dance: Twyla Tharp has made her name through being principally about steps; while Russell Maliphant is one of many men to work from a very internal emotional map of the body. But the more important truth for Rojo is that with about 90% of today's ballet repertory being made by men, as well as a disproportionate percentage of modern dance repertory, we have only a very limited idea of the kind of work that women might make.”

If that sentiment sounds familiar, it may be because it has been used to critique the porn industry from day one, when it was probably spot on. Today, however, and if trends mean anything for far into the future, many adult filmmakers can also be added to the “exception” list. That Rojo and the Guardian don’t realize that does not mean it is not so.






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Ann Oui

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