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tiger fringe

Dancers take on porn industry with nude show

Also: A show inspired by ‘waterbears’, eight-legged creatures that have been sent to space.

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Porn is so pervasive and sex is used to sell everything from cars to ice cream. It’s really shit and I feel like as a woman anyway I’m being coerced… I think it’s so important to have a voice and talk back against these things.

EMMA FITZGERALD AND Áine Stapleton are dancers who perform naked on stage.

And in their brand new show Lurky! Lurky!, they tackle the issue of porn, using their bodies to de-objectify the naked body, a decision they made after getting tired with how women are represented on screen and in advertising.

“We were both really fed up with the female form just being represented in a really narrow away, and always for this imaginary or exaggerated straight, male, heterosexual gaze,” explained Fitzgerald.

This imaginary male gaze “implies the male sexual hunger is the dominant consuming force, and women’s bodies have to be passive and sexualised over and over again to feed this insatiable hunger,” she said.

The porn industry

Emma Fitzgerald by Ewa Figasweski

Stapleton and Fitzgerald say that before they began their research, they had “no idea” of “how powerful the porn industry is”.

They describe the porn industry as “constantly telling straight men that they need to have their needs met and that their sexual hunger is massive”.

The two dancers spoke to male friends about this, who told them about the pressure on them to consume porn, which can become addictive.

The women have even seen their images being used – without their permission – by the porn industry, when a video of a 2008 performance of theirs in New York’s East Village went from YouTube to porn sites.

The incident led the venue to change their policy on nudity, and shocked Fitzgerald and Stapleton. “It was absolutely sickening”.

We as women should be able to say ‘my choice, my body’. It’s empowering for other women to see me validating my body as it is and give it a voice outside that porn, and the airbrushed images that we are being fed all the time.

But it is within live performance that the two feel “we can control the terms where we can be seen”.

Making a choice to appear naked is one field where we do control how the woman’s body is seen.

It’s not like they’re immune to messages about the ‘bikini body’, but they try to move beyond that in their work, saying “let’s never turn it into a stick to beat ourselves with”.

The show uses footage of their own bodies, including close ups of intimate parts filmed using a macro lens.

Looking over the footage, “what really stood out were areas like the nipple or vagina”, said Stapleton.

Normally when you see nipples it is porn or else censored. When you see the footage, they’re so beautiful and innocent.

Their work does attract a range of reactions – from characters who find themselves banned from future shows due to disrespectful behaviour, to people who “come up after shows and talk about their own issues with their bodies”.

People have told them it is a “relief” to see “normal women” on the stage.

Body image

Has performing nude affected their own sense of body image?

“I’d still be very body conscious but my belief system around my body… I understand what I’m doing a lot more but it’s still the same struggle,” said Stapleton.

I feel really hyper aware now – it’s kind of exhausting.

It’s “easy to fall back into that trap of self-consciousness”, they say. But in the performance space, they own their bodies and how they present them.

Lurky! Lurky! runs at from Wednesday 10 September to Sunday 14 September at the Samuel Beckett Theatre. For more, see the official Tiger Fringe website.

A show inspired by eight-legged ‘waterbears’

LO RES_Philip Connaughton_TARDIGRADE_Credit Luca Truffarelli_AAA0736_close crop LUCA TRUFFARELLI LUCA TRUFFARELLI

Tardigrade, also showing at Tiger Fringe, is an entirely different concept to Lurky! Lurky!, this time taking its inspiration from eight-legged bugs that are so hardy they’ve been sent to space.

The show is the first full-length production by Philip Connaughten, with music by Michael Gallen of Ana Gog.

It’s a feast for the eyes and the senses, with raucous dance, live music from a choir and string quartet, video projection, outlandish costumes and a virtual dog.

The kaleidoscopic sensory overload came from Connaughton’s love for Hieronymus Bosch’s works.

When living in Madrid, he’d go to gaze at The Garden of Earthly Delights at a nearby art gallery.

I always knew that when I saw it I could take it in as a whole or focus on one detail. There was always new stuff to see.

Then, while watching Star Wars and some intense lightsaber fights, he got thinking of how much information we take in these days, and how our capacity for this has grown in recent years.

With Tardigrade, he wants to have a huge, multi-layered show where audiences can take it as it is, or focus in on one element. He really likes to push boundaries, and the Tiger Fringe has given him that space.

In essence, he wanted to make it “a little overwhelming”. Don’t worry about following a narrative: “You have to let yourself go with it and take what you can.”

That said, there are specific anchor points throughout the show, to ensure you won’t get lost.


Little creatures

The name comes from little creatures called – of course – tardigrades. They’re micro-animals with eight legs who can dwell in extreme conditions.

Connaughton has five petri-dishes containing tardigrades, and used their movements to inspire some of the dancing during the show.

It’s an interesting metaphor for a universe that exists in the same environment in which we exist. It’s like you look through a microscope at drop of water and it’s like a Mexican soap opera.

He gets the performers to look through the microscope and then at the water droplets, seeing the “two realities that exist in the same space”.

The costumes for the show also take up this point, and were inspired by people dressing a certain way which allows them “the space to become that [character] or step outside their own constraints”.

Connaughton sees the tardigrades, and their quiet but ubiquitous existence in our world, as “a metaphor for all kinds of existing things – more than anything it’s that other world that exists in reality with us”.

Tardigrade runs from Tuesday 9 September to Saturday 13 September at the Samuel Beckett Theatre. For more, see the official Tiger Fringe website.

Read:“They picked the wrong drag queen”: The power of Panti’s call>

Read: Jez from Peep Show writes three perfect paragraphs about feminism>

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