My Erotic Body
Monday, August 7, 5:45pm
Interview with Director/Creator Michele Beck
My Erotic Body is a wonderful celebration of the female body and sisterhood among women. How did you first hear about this group and what led you to pursue this story?
I love exploring movement and taking different kinds of dance classes. About 5 years ago I was in a movement workshop and the teacher suggested I try a pole dancing class. This didn’t sound like the right thing for me, but she kept bothering me about it, so I finally decided to try an introductory class. As part of the intro class the teacher danced for us. I thought her movement was incredibly powerful and I was immediately hooked. I had a lot of preconceived notions about pole dancing and thought it was primarily for the pleasure of men, but the school changed the context and consequently changed the meaning of the dance for me. I had no intention of making a film when I started taking classes. It wasn’t until later when I realized how profound the experience was that I decided to make the film.
Were there any women who were first hesitant to be a part of this documentary? What changed?
The studio is a very private and intimate space. When I first had the idea for the project, I assumed that the studio would not let me film, but I asked and they were thrilled by the idea. That was great, but I figured there was no way that the women who danced there would be interested in sharing something so personal, but I sent out a letter asking people to participate and to my surprise, a number of women enthusiastically responded. After I met these women, they told their friends and I eventually had too many people who wanted to be interviewed. That said, there were still plenty of women who were not interested and there were others who wanted to participate, but still wanted to maintain a level of anonymity because of their life outside of dancing. I thought this was interesting and speaks to the fact that although pole dancing has become somewhat mainstream there is still stigma around it.
How has this experience and spending so much time with these incredible women changed you? Has it inspired any future documentaries or narratives?
I loved spending time with these women, hearing their stories and working in a documentary format. It helped me to realize how much I love interviewing and also filming dance. After I finished My Erotic Body, I started a new film about creative process where I follow two artists, the composer Sebastian Currier and the sculptor Judy Fox, from the beginning of a project to the final performance/ exhibition. As part of working with Sebastian, I have attended a lot of concerts and have become fascinated by the beauty and intensity of the movement of musicians while they are playing. This will be part of the documentary, but I also want to see if I can use this footage to create a more abstract video or installation.
Do you have any female role models that you have looked up to as an artist? What about their work speaks to you?
I am inspired by a number of amazing visual artists such as Valie Export, Marina Abramavic´ and Joan Jonas. Their work explores the psychology of the body in disturbing, beautiful and risky ways. I admire their perseverance, bravery and willingness to fight for their voice, particularly at a time when the art world was male dominated.
Have you approached any gender study programs at the local universities to speak about your film? What do you hope this film provides for those who view it?
My Erotic Body is still going through the festival circuit, but once that is done, I am looking forward to showing the film publicly and a gender studies program would be a great place to start. Although things have changed for women, I have found that they still struggle in their everyday lives to express their sexuality in a threatening world. By being able to peer into the safe space of the studio, I hope this film will give the audience insight into the complexity of women’s sensuality and see how it is possible for women to take the erotic movement of pole dancing and enjoy it for their own pleasure.