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statement : Joel Parsons

Joel Parsons




The Ballet Projects

Taking the unrelenting discipline of classical ballet as its central metaphor, my current work engages with the unresolvable tension between perfection and actuality. I maintain a strategic ambivalence toward ballet and its meanings. I refuse to align myself with the ideal that ballet authorizes or with the norms it reinscribes with every step, lift, and jump. But in the shadow of this criticism, in the dark comfort of auditoriums and theaters, I give myself over to ballet’s seduction. I do this for a number of reasons, not least of which is that the passion of another person compels me to do so. For all I am critical of in ballet’s punishing aspirations to perfection, I love it.

In an attempt to navigate the space between seduction and alienation, and myself and this person, I began to teach myself ballet. I filter gestures, steps, and narratives through my non-balletic body, fracturing and reconstructing them. This somatic knowledge is then translated into material, sculptural interrogations of choreography, stage space, and the performing body. Bodily masses are suspended in states of active balance, materials at hand are enlisted in the pursuit of the exceptional, and shims themselves are shimmed until the work is resolutely good enough - good enough to function, to stand, to resist the ideal.

As I create new understandings of ballet that are particular to my body and my desire, the body and desire that ballet denies, I construct a habitable place between the actual and the ideal, estrangement and identification, failure and success - a place to perform ambivalences. In doing so I also extend myself, awkwardly but earnestly, into the opaque parts of another person with the hope of finding new potentials for partnering.

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