Intimacy as a Political Act: Contemporary Dance in South Africa

Conference paper


Castelyn, S. 2021. Intimacy as a Political Act: Contemporary Dance in South Africa. JOMBA! Masihambisane Dialogues: 2021. 02 - 04 Jun 2021 The Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal.
AuthorsCastelyn, S.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

Under apartheid, intimacy across racial classifications was illegal, for example, the Immorality Amendment Act of 1950 forbid intimate acts such as sexual relations between white and Black South Africans (Guelke, 2005:27). Three years later, the Reservation of Separate Amenities Act (Guelke, 2005:27) meant that Black and white bodies had to use separate toilets, parks, and even benches to sit on. Bodies of different races in close proximity were seen as dangerous and had to be monitored and disciplined (Foucault, 1975). Sichel posits how the origins of “South African contemporary dance has been, to a large extent, a political act of defiance and activism,” (2012:108), and I would add, South African contemporary dance at its core is about intimacy. There is the history of bodies of different races, genders, and sexualities moving in close proximity: touching, skin-on-skin contact and much more. South African contemporary dance is not only a physical practice of intimacy but furthermore in its composition, as dance styles reflecting the diverse cultural practices of South Africa, such as Ngoma and Bharatanatyam, interweave with Graham-based technique creating a hybrid configuration. The “connection between dance, rights, and justice’ is ‘a very intimate one” (Jackson & Shapiro-Phim, 2008:xix), and this provocation considers my own involvement in contemporary dance in South Africa as a political act reflecting Sichel’s statement that “South African contemporary dance has had, and continues to have, a deep-rooted impact on South African cultural history and most importantly, on individual lives” (2018:31).

Keywordscontemporary dance; South Africa; politics
Year2021
ConferenceJOMBA! Masihambisane Dialogues: 2021
PublisherThe Centre for Creative Arts, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Publication dates
Online2021
Publication process dates
Deposited01 Mar 2022
JournalJOMBA! Masihambisane Dialogues Proceedings
Journal citation1, pp. 76-79
Web address (URL)https://jomba.ukzn.ac.za/masihambisane-dialogues/intimacy-as-a-political-act/
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File Access Level
Anyone
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https://repository.uel.ac.uk/item/8q50y

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