By Peta Tait
This pioneering examine is among the significant guides within the more and more well known and principally undocumented sector of circus reviews. via pictures and illustrations, Peta Tait offers a unprecedented survey of a hundred and forty years of trapeze acts and the socially altering principles of muscular motion when it comes to our figuring out of gender and sexuality. She questions how spectators see and revel in aerial activities, and what cultural identities are offered through our bodies in speedy, actual aerial flow. Adeptly finding aerial functionality in the wider cultural historical past of our bodies and their identities, Circus our bodies explores this topic via a variety of motion pictures resembling Trapeze (1956) and Wings of hope (1987) and Tait additionally examines dwell performances together with: * the 1st trapeze performers: L?otard and the Hanlon Brothers* lady celebrities; Azella, Sanyeah, black French aerialist LaLa, the notorious Leona Dare, and the feminine human cannonballs* twentieth-century gender benders; Barbette and Luisita Leers* the Codonas, Concellos, Gaonas, Vazquez and Pages troupes* inventive aerial acts in Cirque de Soleil and Circus ounces productions. This ebook will turn out a useful source for all scholars and students drawn to this attention-grabbing box.
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Extra info for Circus Bodies Cultural Identity in Aerial Performance
The nineteenth-century music hall song The Flying Trapeze, by George Leybourne, describes ‘a daring young man’ on the trapeze, who could ‘fly through the air with the greatest of ease’. The lyrics explain that he was attractive to women, and forms a duo with a female admirer, who then does most of the work and seems like a man: 38 Unnatural acts, female strongmen He taught her gymnastics and dressed her in tights To help him live at his ease, And made her assume a masculine name And now she goes on the trapeze.
Adolescents potentially excel in aerial athleticism as they do in sport, and young female performers in particular were trained to do spectacular performances because they also made the action seem more remarkable to nineteenth-century audiences. Their performance identities utilized descriptive and visual symbols from history and mythology, and of nationality, to garner public affection. Leading female aerialists set records; their rivals were each other. Leona Dare, Lala, Emma Jutau and the aerialists doing human-projectile tricks were leaders in a performance history forged by specific bodies.
Responses to playwright and novelist Charles Reade’s ideas of ‘The Coming Man’ also envisaged an ambidextrous body, and one journalist explains that male and female gymnasts, including those on trapeze, demonstrated greater 30 Graceful manliness, unfeminine maidens and erotic gods muscular ambidexterity. The journalist writes, ‘they are all more either-handed than the world . . 54 In this account of the ambidextrous right and left muscularity of the gymnast and aerialist, female bodies are also interchangeable with male bodies.