What Is It About Dance and Vulnerability?


As I go through some of my notes that I’ve been jotting down in my notebook dedicated to my Dance Study series, I realize that the word vulnerability seems to be reoccurring. The first mention of it came after photographing Tiana a few days ago whilst sitting in a Starbucks chatting with her after our first session together. After hearing the word mentioned, I decided to look up the definition of vulnerable and this is what I was presented with:

vulnerable (adj.): (1) capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon, (2) open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc., (3) open to assault; difficult to defend.

After reading this definition I recalled two of the first few words that I jotted down in association with the word dance, which were freedom and expression. What’s interesting was until Tiana mentioned that word I would have never thought of the word vulnerable on my own. Afterwards I thought, is it possible that without vulnerability that both freedom and expression couldn’t exist? Or at the least it would be hard to dance with both freedom and expression without having vulnerability? I looked up some synonyms that I felt might be useful for my study and came across the two words of naked and unprotected. With these two words, I’m trying to figure out how to portray this in my images, or if it should be portrayed in my images at all. I still find myself fascinated with doing conceptual images but I am wondering if this Dance Study will allow latitude for me to do so, or if I’m to focus solely on dance and nothing more.

So…what is it about dance and vulnerability? Well, the thing that I’m discovering through this project and talking to friends is that without vulnerability the emotions that could not be expressed through this art form can not freely be expressed; leaving dance as just technical poses of the body and nothing more. That vulnerability (or nakedness) somehow allows the dancer to freely express their emotions and feelings to their audience, and this emotion is expressed in the way their body moves. Up to this point, I believed that it was solely the technical that made dance beautiful and not a combination of emotions and technical training. (I know, I’ve been living in a box, a really big one probably) What I think I’m still left with is what emotions can be portrayed and communicated effectively? Does the dancer have to be 100% vulnerable with the audience for dance to maintain its beauty? Could vulnerability be withheld some and cause more curiosity when one looks at the image and/or the dancer and wonder what is happening? As I talk to more people and complete more shoots, I’ll write down some more questions and hopefully ask the dancers these questions or maybe even you, my readers. Well, till next time.

[JRP ’13]