Embodying a Queer Worldview: The Contemporary Ballets of Katy Pyle and Deborah Lohseby Gretchen Alterowitz

Dance Chronicle

About

Year
2014
DOI
10.1080/01472526.2014.957599
Subject
Visual Arts and Performing Arts

Similar

Charting the Future: Credentialing, Privileging, Quality, and Evaluation in Clinical Ethics Consultation

Authors:
Nancy Neveloff Dubler, Mayris P. Webber, Deborah M. Swiderski, The Faculty and the National Workin
2009

Conservation and land management

Authors:
The Viscount of Arbuthnott
1968

Strategies of social research in Mozambique

Authors:
by Members of the Centre of African
1982

Text

This article was downloaded by: [University of Bath]

On: 02 March 2015, At: 05:44

Publisher: Routledge

Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

Click for updates

Dance Chronicle

Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ldnc20

Embodying a Queer Worldview: The

Contemporary Ballets of Katy Pyle and

Deborah Lohse

Gretchen Alterowitz

Published online: 23 Oct 2014.

To cite this article: Gretchen Alterowitz (2014) Embodying a Queer Worldview: The

Contemporary Ballets of Katy Pyle and Deborah Lohse, Dance Chronicle, 37:3, 335-366, DOI: 10.1080/01472526.2014.957599

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01472526.2014.957599

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE

Taylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content.

This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &

Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/page/termsand-conditions

D ow nl oa de d by [U niv ers ity of

B ath ] a t 0 5:4 4 0 2 M arc h 2 01 5

Dance Chronicle, 37:335–366, 2014

Copyright © 2014 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

ISSN: 0147-2526 print / 1532-4257 online

DOI: 10.1080/01472526.2014.957599

Embodying a Queer Worldview:

The Contemporary Ballets of Katy Pyle and Deborah Lohse

GRETCHEN ALTEROWITZ

Katy Pyle’s The Firebird, a Ballez (2013) and Deborah Lohse’s Ineffable (2011) contribute to a growing number of contemporary ballets that engage with and disrupt established ballet conventions to work for social change. While gender studies theorists have positioned ballet as a tool for locating men’s queerness, women’s queer perspectives, until recently, have not found resonance in the genre because of its strong historical ties to patriarchal power. Pyle and

Lohse challenge patriarchal assumptions by queering ballet’s gender conceptions, providing audiences with opportunities to see ballet interact with contemporary constructions of women’s varied genders and sexualities. In so doing, they imagine a purpose for ballet beyond physical virtuosity and aesthetic valuation.

At a recent theater studies conference, on a panel on queer dance performance, feminist performance critic Jill Dolan asked the following question:

What competencies should audiences bring to these pieces?1 In other words, what kinds of knowledge and capacities do choreographers working on the margins ask their viewers to bring to performances? The issue of audience readiness is particularly resonant for my analysis of two recent dance works,

The Firebird, a Ballez (2013) by Katy Pyle and Ineffable (2011) by Deborah

Lohse. ∗

Both of these choreographers challenge ballet’s gender constructions ∗

Katy Pyle studied classical ballet and modern dance at the North Carolina School of the

Arts, and postmodern dance and multimedia performance art at Hollins University. She dances in her own work, and has performed with many choreographers and artists, including John

Jasperse, Jennifer Monson, and Young Jean Lee, most recently touring with Lee in “Untitled

Feminist Show.” Deborah Lohse trained in classical ballet, attained the B.A. in dance and the B.A. in theater from the University of California—San Diego, and performed with the

Sacramento Ballet and the San Diego Ballet. Currently, she dances with Doug Elkins and

Friends and has performed and presented her choreography in numerous venues, including the Clark Theater at Lincoln Center, Joe’s Pub, Dance Theater Workshop, and Joyce SoHo.

Color versions of one or more figures in the article can be found online at www.tandfonline.com/ldnc. 335

D ow nl oa de d by [U niv ers ity of

B ath ] a t 0 5:4 4 0 2 M arc h 2 01 5 336 Dance Chronicle and its expectations of normative relationships by presenting female, lesbian, and queer bodies demonstrating desire for each other within a ballet context. In the process of confronting well-known, recurrent ideas about gender and sexuality in Western culture, these dances reimagine familiar stories to critique and deny a normalizing gaze.

Pyle and Lohse contribute to a growing number of contemporary ballets that disrupt established ballet conventions to work for social change. Their work helps to unmake the social stereotypes and strictures ballet’s traditional practices helped to construct, thus engaging in a kind of activism that aims to cultivate a spectator who can envisage a purpose for ballet beyond physical virtuosity and aesthetic presentation. Like many ballets, these dances center on love narratives. Pyle’s The Firebird, a Ballez is a contemporary version of the original Firebird, choreographed by Michel Fokine for the Ballets

Russes in 1910. Her piece adheres generally to Fokine’s narrative and uses the full musical score by Igor Stravinsky, but she changes the genders and sexualities of the roles, and incorporates parody and camp, to resist and point up traditional assumptions about ballet. Lohse’s Ineffable is an eveninglength duet that utilizes many ballet markers, including a structure similar to a classical pas de deux, to portray a wedding ceremony. However, this wedding occurs between two women and invites audience members to view the performance in an active and interactive way, thus defying traditional gender roles as well as the spectatorial frame typically associated with ballet.