This pioneering study is one of the major publications in the increasingly popular and largely undocumented area of circus studies.
Through photographs and illustrations, Peta Tait presents an extraordinary survey of 140 years of trapeze acts and the socially changing ideas of muscular action in relation to our understanding of gender and sexuality. She questions how spectators see and enjoy aerial actions, and what cultural identities are presented by bodies in fast, physical aerial movement.
Adeptly locating aerial performance within the wider cultural history of bodies and their identities, Circus Bodies explores this subject through a range of films such as Trapeze (1956) and Wings of Desire (1987) and Tait also examines live performances including:
* the first trapeze performers: Leotard and the Hanlon Brothers * female celebrities; Azella, Sanyeah, black French aerialist LaLa, the infamous Leona Dare, and the female human cannonballs * twentieth-century gender benders; Barbette and Luisita Leers * the Codonas, Concellos, Gaonas, Vazquez and Pages troupes * imaginative aerial acts in Cirque de Soleil and Circus Oz productions.
This book will prove an invaluable resource for all students and scholars interested in this fascinating field.
Country of Publication:
25 August 2005
Professional and scholarly
Professional & Vocational
A / AS level
Further / Higher Education
Introduction: Aerial Bodies; Chapter 1: Graceful Manliness, Unfeminine Maidens and Erotic Gods; Chapter 2: Unnatural Acts, Female Strongmen; Chapter 3: Cross-Dressing and Female Muscular Drag; Chapter 4: Gender Competition, Camp Spectacles and Impossible Machismo; Chapter 5: Androgyny to Queer Violence: Cirque du Soleil, Archaos and Circus Oz; Chapter 6: Ecstasy and Visceral Flesh in Motion; Glossary; References; Index
Peta Tait is Professor of Theatre and Drama at La Trobe University, Australia. She is author of Performing Emotions: Gender, Bodies, Spaces in Chekhov's Drama and Stanislavski's theatre (2002) as well as books on gender identity in Australian theatre, and editor of Body Show/s (2000).