Showing posts with label anorexia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anorexia. Show all posts

10 Oct 2015

On Dance as a Method of Becoming-Bird

 Anorexic Ballerina by Mexxkid 

What, ultimately, is dance, if not a method of becoming-bird; that is to say, a way in which the human being learns how to experience the incredible sensation of taking flight? This is why the connection between the ballerina and the swan is more than a delightful metaphor and why ballet is more than merely a form of entertainment. 

Spectators are right to be amazed by what they see on the stage, but if they press on beyond their astonishment at what young bodies can do, they'll discover that within classical dance is a profound experimental and ascetic practice, or what Amélie Nothomb describes as a fearsome ideal - one capable of ravaging the flesh and acting upon the mind like a drug.

Nothomb is right to understand ballet as a becoming-bird of the human being (although mistaken to think of this in the molar terms of species transformation). She's right also to stress the elements of violence and delirium, discipline and madness. Which is why it's not entirely outrageous to describe ballet training as a form of child abuse, involving psychological terror and physical maltreatment; a regime in which injuries are routinely ignored, eating disorders discreetly encouraged, and young dancers placed under constant pressure to push themselves beyond their own limits in order to develop wings.

As Nietzsche says, if you would teach young girls to fly in defiance of the spirit of gravity, you must first hollow out their bones and remove all obstacles to their becoming-bird: it is better to live in freedom with nothing to eat, than un-free and over-stuffed. 

However - crucially - Nietzsche also counsels taking things slowly: She who wants to learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and to walk and to run and climb ... and for these things you need strong legs and a healthy body. You can be thinspired, but anorexia is not the answer and there's no virtue in physical deprivation (no salvation through starvation).