Sexualising the performance, objectifying the performer: The twerk dance in Kenya
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Shifting arenas of dance performance and youths’ counterculture have brought the twerk to the internet, thus exposing it to the discourse of cultural imperialism, appropriation, and cultural resistance. This has changed the symbolism of the art form: from a performance meant for celebration, to a dance of sexual rage. The media associates the dance with bottom provocation, prostitution or celebrity achievement stories − rarely celebrating the intellect, aesthetics or the expression of freedom in it. From a western point of view, twerking is overly sexualised and the performers participants in a cultural notoriety – thus, objectifying it. However, in its original context it is primarily a dance for festive celebrations. As a form of artistic expression resisting cultural destruction in Kenya, twerk is a way of re-politicising the African female body, and decolonising it from the male, western influenced gaze. Sexual expression in it is therefore a dialogue, not simply an invitation to sex.
CitationKitata, M. (2020). Sexualising the performance, objectifying the performer: The twerk dance in Kenya. Agenda, 1-11.
Taylor & Francis