Response to article 'Ahhh ... Mi Amor!!!'
- Lewis Segal (senior dance critic, Los Angeles Times)
November 6, 2006
(e-mail response to article Ahhh ... Mi Amor!!! by Ramaa Bharadvaj)
The danger isn't that classical dance devotees might get angry at you for questioning the impact of a solo by a distinguished artist. No, the danger is that sexual practices that nobody sanctions any more might seem to be condoned when general dance audiences view such a solo.
Do men identify with Krishna and feel it's all right to play around because they're gods and their women are desperate for their love? That's not an interpretation that anyone would want to encourage, but without education in the proper context of such a solo, reckless male arrogance might well be given an ancient stamp of approval. As to questions about the age of consent, and sexual harassment, they can't be left to chance--but need to be dealt with in explanatory materials (or introductions) or young people could well feel they have no right to protect themselves from victimization.
I know these are extreme statements, but art is a powerful tool in social conditioning and the greater the artist, the more "reasonable" UNreasonable socio/sexual attitudes can seem.
I think contemporary artists should have complete freedom, but when traditional art (from eras and artists long dead) starts alienating people, that's the time that context MUST be explained or other, less problematic works be performed in their stead.
Anyway, bravo to you for getting people to think about the content of the art they're watching, not just the quality of the performance.