Is the male gaze theory evident in audience members of today’s society viewing modern ballet and high modernist/post modern dance challenging the existing assumptions?
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The research has been based upon gaze theories such as the Male Gaze proposed by Mulvey (1975), the Narcissistic Gaze and Mutual Gaze in relation to viewing dance. There are many debates about gender equality therefore this piece of empirical research sets out to discover if gender representation dictates the issue of the "Male Gaze," who the audience is drawn to viewing in dance. It is pragmatically concerned with the viewing of dance and whether the gaze differs depending on the genre in this instance Modern Ballet and High Modernist/Post Modern Dance. As extensive research suggests that ballet places the viewer as a voyeur subjecting them to the objectification of the female dancer, some High Modernist/Post Modern Dance on the other hand was produced to subvert the gaze. This research dissertation is an exploration of the views and opinions of participants who observed the two extracts; Step Text (1984) which is a Modern Ballet choreographed by Forsythe and White Man Sleeps (1987) a High Modernist/Post Modern piece choreographed by Davies. The subjects expressed their opinions by the use of an open and closed ended questionnaire along with a focus group discussion for a combination of qualitative data expressing experiences and views and quantitative data from the closed questions presenting figures. The results suggested that the Male Gaze theory can still be usefully applied to female views of dance even though this does not entirely fit with research found as the female viewer should take on the role of the Narcissistic Gaze according to research not the male viewing position of the Male Gaze. The subjects were consistent with their views as a clear difference of who is viewed and gender roles perceived in Modern Ballet and High Modernist/Post Modern Dance was also discovered. Research therefore implies that various subjects conformed to the conceptions of the Male Gaze.
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