On November 22nd 2019 I organized the screening of Birth of Pleasure at Emory University. This event was part of my Mellon course Love-Sex-Desire, The Subversive Power of Art. Birth of Pleasure is an erotic narrative disco ballet-film which explores the politics of sensuality and contemporary issues around the female body, through a radical retelling of the Psyche and Cupid myth.
The film addresses three main themes: Firstly, eroticism, based on the writings of Audre Lorde, as a means for women to reclaim joy in their jobs, relationships and identities and to combat symbolic and literal ‘pornographic’ ideas of beauty and sensuality. Secondly, the importance of support for the mental health and outlook of women in our current political and cultural climate through nurturing depictions of the dancers. And finally, the politicization of the female body through abstractions and depictions of menstruation and the shame and silence that oftentimes surrounds menstruation. Because of this thematic, as well as its use of cinematography, music, contemporary dance and media art to explore these topics, the movie was the ideal example of my students to explore.
The movie screening was followed by a discussion and Q&A with film director Lev Omelchenko, choreographer and artistic director Anicka Austin, composer Chris Gravely, as well as a handful of dancers that collaborated on this project.