Antistatic questions to Melanie Lane // “Wonderwomen”
Bodybuilding is a form of expression.
What were you particularly interested in when working on “Wonderwomen”?
Some years ago, I became deeply interested in highly disciplined physical training as it becomes more popular in society. So, I began searching for and engaging with other forms of physical training besides contemporary dance such as ballet, exotic dance and boxing. I was particularly interested in female bodybuilding for it’s multi-faceted layers. It is a highly disciplined sport in a male dominated industry. It resists popular female body image and works intimately with the body. I found it fascinating that the bodybuilder is trained for a sculptural purpose and less for the purpose of movement, and so I was interested in working with women in this field to find a physical language to translate the rare and intimate relationship they have with their bodies.
Bodybuilding is a form of expression. It is a definitive choice, especially for a woman. Body image is an inherent part of our current social fabric and so the choice to embark towards the image of a strong physique is a clear message of strength, control and independence. Also perhaps a resistance to the dominant narrative around femininity, where-by manifesting a new reclamation of what femininity can be. Ironically, to achieve this body there is also great sacrifice and immense discipline needed which can summon a vulnerability and fragility in contrast to its muscular strength and power.
What kind of experience do you want to create for the audience with this piece?
The performance is offering a space for an audience to reflect on the highly disciplined sport of these two women and speaks about their personal and intimate experiences with their bodies. There is of course the subject of physical strength and female body image, but in addition there is also an insight into the fragility and mental perseverance that is inherent in the discipline of this sport. I hope it opens a space to perhaps reflect on one’s own relationship to their body, with a view towards understanding its potential, its representation, strength and its limits.
You’ve worked in diverse aesthetic lines and contexts within contemporary dance. What does still drive you in this art form? How would you define your artistic position towards it?
As an artist, I am constantly learning through research and collaboration. One of my pursuits is to engage with people who are interested in asking questions about the body in all its many forms and representations. My most recent work has connected me with a professional ballet dancer, professional boxers, exotic dancers, a 12-years-old girl and of course female bodybuilders. There are always many other stories outside of those represented in our social dominant narrative, and so these are the stories I’m interested in learning from and translating into performance.