Dance, Ageing And The Mirror: Negotiating Watchability

Sage Publications Inc
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Discourse & Communication, 2013, 7 (1), pp. 3 - 24
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Bodily display and self-awareness are generally mediated by restrictive ideologies of youthful beauty. `How do I look? is therefore a salient question in terms of personal ageing. Dance makes bodies watchable, while ageing has been claimed to make bodies `unwatchable. Ethnographic research conducted amongst a group of older dancers provides an opportunity to study these ideological tensions empirically, by analysing the discursive representations of older dancers and their teacher. `The mirror is a productive theme in the data, giving access to understandings of (un)watchability of more and less literal sorts. It proves to be the case that, while dance as a practice for older women remains fitfully tainted by culturally dominant ageist assumptions about the body and ageing, it also opens up far more emancipating ideologies. Older dancers articulation of these ideologies are suggestive of how embodied ageing can be reconstrued, well beyond dance contexts.
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