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The hirahira aesthetics of wrinkled skin: Notes on an ageing dancer in the contemporary ballet world
journal contributionposted on 2023-05-21, 17:00 authored by Katsuhiko SuganumaKatsuhiko Suganuma
This article interprets the skin of an ageing ballerina as costume in the contemporary ballet world in which ageism is predominant. By analysing relatively recent performances and commentaries, in addition to discourses surrounding Yoko Morishita, the 74-year-old prima ballerina with The Matsuyama Ballet, the article discusses the ways in which this woman’s virtuosity sheds new light on the subjectivity of an older dancer on the stage. Drawing on Masuko Honda’s work on girlhood, and also on critical literature from fairy-tale studies, dance studies and queer studies, the article argues that Morishita embodies her naturally aged skin not to further demarcate but in fact to confound the established boundaries between younger and older women in the ballet world. The interpretation that follows of Morishita’s artistry in classical ballet confirms that we must consider the meaning of skin and its relationship to garments when conducting any intersectional analysis of fairy tales and ballet performances. This article thus also is a response to recent calls for artworks and interpretations to voice more diverse forms of subjectivity for old women in the narrative arc of fairy tales. When other older ballerinas begin, like Morishita, to dance princess protagonist roles as a matter of course on the stages of professional ballet companies, the stories to be told about womanhood and femininity will no longer remain simply in the purview of normative gender constructions and associated age discourses.
Publication titleStudies in Costume & Performance
Pagination183 - 195
Department/SchoolSchool of Humanities
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom