Distortion: Duet (After Yvonne Rainer)

Aside from the few times I’ve gotten particularly drunk and led a group of other particularly drunk party-goers in a Zumba-style improvised workout routine, I generally don’t dance in public.

It’s not that I’m a bad dancer. Not to brag, but I was the male dance captain in my sixth grade community theater production of Guys and Dolls. I know a thing or two about the tango. Ten years later, though, fears of physically advertising an identity that makes me uncomfortable, whether too feminine or awkward or sexual or sweaty, keep me from busting a move whenever I am moved to do so.

Before this gets too deep into a weird analysis of the sources of my social anxieties, I’ll diffuse the tension like I usually do: by laughing at myself.

Duet (After Yvonne Rainer) was an exploration of the visceral embarrassment that comes with putting my lanky, dancing body on display and, importantly, the humor to be found in that embarrassment. In the video, I try to emulate Trio A, a seminal work by dancer and choreographer Yvonne Rainer.

Trio A strips away the reverence and distance often associated with Western notions of dance performances, and pushes the boundaries of perhaps the most primal, mysterious, and communicative of art forms. I thought this would mean I would be able to replicate it. Oh, was I wrong. Despite the magnificently pedestrian qualities of Rainer’s choreography and having it playing literally right in front of me, a lack of dance ability or maybe self-consciousness of my moving body precluded a successful replication.

As a result, the video depicts a duet of sorts between the referent, tiny little Yvonne on my computer screen, and my own perversion of that referent. It’s hard for me to get away from my own experience of the footage (Oh my god is that how my butt looks when I walk. It’s tiny but still so frumpy) but hopefully it’s at least a little funny for the rest of you.

This little project of mine probably shouldn’t be taken too seriously—I’ll spare you the poststructuralist reading—but it is my hope that a viewer contemplates what exactly about my amateur rendition is making him or her laugh at (with?) me.

By Luke Fieweger ’16

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