A Glasgow-based artist is seeking women of all ages, sizes and from all backgrounds to perform in her three-piece theatre work this June. There’s just one catch. You’ve got to dance onstage naked.
Nic Green’s Trilogy is an exploration of contemporary feminism and a celebration of the female body, be it fat or skinny, taut or wobbly, short or tall, and everything in between. And she needs Melbourne volunteers to perform in the Arts House show this June.
That may sound like the stuff of nightmares to many people, but Nic says she created Trilogy to redirect the conversation, and the male gaze, and shift attitudes to women’s bodies.
“In the UK female nudity is almost always associated with sex,” she says. “I wanted to create a space where my naked body (and the bodies of others) might or could be about other things, celebrated for other reasons.
“At times people have asked: ‘aren’t we past all this?’ When faced with this question I feel I only need to open a newspaper, see the adverts Facebook chooses for me based on my age and sex pop up on my computer screen, or talk to women and girls in my community to know my answer is that ‘no, sadly, we’re not’.”
Trilogy’s first act was borne out of questions Nic was asking about her attitude to her own body after witnessing an eight-year-old actor she was working with who was already so body conscious she was dieting. Nic says she wanted to create a space where women could exorcise their body image demons together. In 2007 she created Part One of Trilogy, where lots of different women dance together unabashedly, naked. Realising there was much more she wanted to say, she extended the work into parts two and three.
“[In the piece] the body is presented as a living, breathing, sweating, practical entity. It is not ‘posed’ or presented as statuesque, but dynamic, moving and alive. As the piece progresses I feel the naked body becomes accepted as multi-layered and non-sensational, at least within the context of this artwork.”
The women who sign up come from all walks of life. They have been as young as 16 and as old as 76.
“Women who come to dance in this piece, come for a variety and diversity of reasons. Some dance to reconnect with themselves and their body after having a double mastectomy, some are coming out at aged 50 with four sons and a husband, and some just want to make friends, dance, or do something they have never dreamed of doing before,” Nic says. “Many don’t know why they are there in the first instance, but most discover along the way.”
Although the piece has been performed many times since its 2007 debut, Nic says the feeling in the room is always different.
“There have been many times when the performance has felt deeply resonant,” she says. “There have been times when an audience has felt particularly focused, wild and emotive. At times there has been cheering and clapping and it has all felt quite raucous and other times it has felt delicate, emotive and glass-like.”
And if you’re considering taking the plunge and auditioning, don’t be afraid. Nic says nobody is expected to strip off straight off the bat.
“The first session we ask that anyone who is at all interested come along to see how they feel. We keep our clothes fully on,” she says. “It gives people a chance to meet us, ask any questions and see if they like the vibe. From then the process happens gently, in stages. There is a lot of time for discussion built into it and of course, learning the dance itself. We always end the process with an almighty party with, inevitably, more wild dancing.”
- Arts House is seeking participants for the Australian premiere of Trilogy. They will need to be available for rehearsals and performances throughout June 2016.