Jreena in a BBC documentary with Len Goodman about the animal dances of the 1800s
I am more concerned with the ‘feeling’ of being animal than with mimicking their actions. However I am also conscious that the idea of animals as unselfconscious, ‘free’ and spontaneous might simply be a romantic myth imposed on them by human beings.
Question for myself :
Why would I never play a monkey on stage as a black dancer? Why do I feel uncomfortable watching black dancers on stage playing certain animals. Why did I not feel this way about the Lion King where a black performer played Rafiki the baboon? Was this some how easier for me to watch because she was a wise female character? In Tarzan the musical – which didn’t do well in the UK, but did in Germany – the black dancers in the show fed back that they did sometimes feel discomfort, but they could not really articulate why. This would be interesting to unpack.
In the media African nations are often described as ‘developing nations’ and are often portrayed as ‘under evolved’. Historically slavery was justified by saying Africans were akin to animals and did not need to be treated as human beings. These ideas still linger in western culture. Blackness has always been seen as ‘closer to nature’. Here is an art exhibition in china in 2017 which shows that in a Chinese context these ideas are also prevalent.
Why did I reach this point in my thinking. When I looked up the 10 most endangered animals in the world, the orangutan and gorilla both come out as one of the top 10. Why? You may ask: is it because we humans are destroying their habitat (palm oil, deforestation)? As I started to explore how I would like to work and develop these issues, I was starting to feel myself uncomfortable, because of the social and problematic issues that I have explained. But I don’t want to shy away from these issues. Just keep exploring.