St. Denis and Radha

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Presenting a hyperbolization of categories of otherness through mapping markers of race, Orientalism, and sexuality onto the white middle-class female body, Ruth St. Denis’s Radha functions as a site of the condensation and displacement of desire.

In this work, St. Denis achieved a combination of Delsartism’s transcendent spirituality with the Oriental orgasmic in the spectacle of a goddess delirious with her own sexuality who chooses to renounce the powerful pleasure of her body for a chaste union with the transcendent.

This according to “Dancing out the difference: Cultural imperialism and Ruth St. Denis’s Radha of 1906” by Jane C. Desmond (Signs: Journal of women in culture and society XVII/1 [fall-winter 1991] pp. 28–49; reprinted in Moving history/dancing cultures: A dance history reader [Middletown: Wesleyan University press, 2001] pp. 256–270.

Above, St. Denis performing Radha in 1908; below, a documentary contextualizes the work in her career and influences.

Related post: Ted Shawn and Native American dance

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Filed under Curiosities, Dance

2 responses to “St. Denis and Radha

  1. Pingback: Ted Shawn and Native American dance | Bibliolore

  2. Pingback: Isadora Duncan and nature | Bibliolore

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