Swapping the pleasures - social practice artwork and alternative performances: gender and alternative pleasure dynamics within the social dancing of kizomba

Collins, David (2019) Swapping the pleasures - social practice artwork and alternative performances: gender and alternative pleasure dynamics within the social dancing of kizomba. In: Fourteenth International Conference on The Arts in Society, 19 June - 21 June 2019, Polytechnic Institute of Lisbon, Portugal. (Unpublished)

Abstract

The output is a creative project based on social practice that challenges the twin taboos of men-following-women and women-leading-men in Afro-Latin social dance. Research process: The work, a series of dance classes, facilitated alternative performances of gender and alternative pleasure-dynamics within an existing community of practice. The teaching of Afro-Latin partner dance forms including Salsa, Bachata, Cha Cha Cha and Kizomba routinely encourages, and in many cases requires, participants to perform their gender within a rigid paradigm of heteronormative power relations. Although many dancers are challenging the gender conventions of male-leading and female-following within social dance, through initiatives such as queer tango and same-sex ballroom dance, there is virtually no evidence of social dance role-reversal within mixed sex couples ie. women leading men. As both a socially-engaged artist and Afro-Latin social dancer, Collins wanted to see whether dancers were open to dance-role reversal within a heterosexualised context and how they would respond to the experience. To this end Collins used methods drawn from socially-engaged art practice to run and evaluate a series of role-swap dance classes for existing dancers of Kizomba in Leeds. Research insights: The most significant results were the relative ease with which participants adapted to the new roles and the feelings of pleasure that many, particularly the men, reported from the experience. Several of the participants went on to occasionally dance socially in role-swapped couples during, and after, the period of the classes. There were also some interesting linguistic effects in terms of the evolution and use of gendered and non-gendered language during the process. Dissemination: The project was disseminated at the Fourteenth International Conference on The Arts in Society, 19-21 June 2019 and Pop Moves “Dancing the Politics of Pleasure” Conference, Royal Holloway, University of London, October 2014.

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