The Fosse Woman : analysis of femininity, aesthetics and corporeality

Milovanovic, Dara (2018) The Fosse Woman : analysis of femininity, aesthetics and corporeality. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Fosse style and ideas regarding gender have radicalised and politicised gender in popular dance on screen. This thesis examines the construction of femininity in Fosse‟s dance repertory for screen through choreography, filmic techniques, and performances by female dancers. Firmly situated in dance analysis, this research relies on an interdisciplinary methodology, which includes dance studies, gender studies, feminist film theory, and post-structuralism. Using theoretical discourses on masquerade, camp sensibility, and feminist film theory the analysis examines the way that female bodies are marked as feminine with choreography and screendance techniques to construct a theatrical performance of hyper-femininity as a political strategy to questions discourses surrounding representations of women in musical films. This thesis critically evaluates the aesthetic properties of spectacle, exaggeration, and artifice in Fosse‟s choreography and its effect on implications of femininity. Representations of femininity are considered in light of aesthetics, specifically excess exhibited through glamour and the grotesque, as a means to comment on gender performativity. This study concentrates on dancing performed by female dancers in Fosse‟s work for screen in order to highlight the construction of femininity as a factor to challenge the hetero-normative, patriarchal system, which surrounds film production and positions images of women as passive. Using poststructural theory, the analysis focuses on the creative labour and corporeal identity of female dancers to challenge Fosse as a sole author of the dances. The examination of historiography indicates that Fosse‟s iconographic dance style and innovation in the way that dance is filmed continues influence on popular dance choreography in the late twentieth and twenty-first century furthers the discussion on authorship and transmission of physical vocabularies through time. Looking through a feminist lens, this study seeks to examine corporeality as subjectivity in order to examine notions of agency and power of female dancers in Fosse‟s work by employing the idea that dance theorises femininity within the film format.

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