Pain, Pleasure and Perfection in Embodied Identity
Chapter 7: Ballet Bodily Pleasures
Ballet Bodily Pleasures
‘I’m free when I dance. I love the flow, yeh. I get excited tingles all over my skin when I try something new ‘cos it’s a risk. You don’t know what might happen. You could fall over or anything. But then I’m really calm, I feel the skin calm down but my heart is pumping and then my body makes it all happen. I perform and then I’m so knackered.’
— MILAN, 15 years
Thus far within this book, I have suggested that the young dancers are involved in a lived dualism, that they regard their bodies mechanistically, as an instrument, and that their minds operate and control their bodies. This assertion is supported by the social world of ballet, as evidenced by the teachers and, indeed, in the biographies and autobiographies of professional ballet dancers. Conversely the young dancers featured in this longitudinal study also communicated and validated, on copious occasions during the four years, the excitement, enjoyment, satisfaction and fulfilment that they experienced from participating in ballet. In this chapter I examine the young dancers’ articulations of ballet bodily pleasures and the social consequences. I also assess whether Bourdieu’s description of habitus adequately accounts for the physiological experiences of the body.
Pleasure, like pain, is notoriously difficult to define or articulate. It refers to a state of feeling of being happy or satisfied, a release of tension, or a pleasing or enjoyable sensation or...
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