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January 20, 2011

Nude Brazilians at the Flynn!

Bale_Folklorico1 I'm a ticket holder for the Balé Folclorico da Bahia show this Friday at the Flynn MainStage. So I was one of the people who received an email notice this afternoon, as follows:

'We have just been informed by the company that two pieces in the program will contain male and female nudity as dancers portray certain gods. We wanted to let you know in case it affects your decision to attend. We will honor refund requests due to this development.'

Does anyone else besides me find this hilarious? I'll tell you how I'm 'affected': I'm making a note to self to bring along my opera glasses!

Normally, people are even more psyched to see naked bodies -- especially buff dancer-type bodies -- than clothed ones (unless, of course, they appear in an American Apparel ad on the back cover of Seven Days). I'd think the Flynn could be selling more tickets 'due to this development.' Ah, well, guess they gotta cover all the possibilities.

Anyhoo, my second reaction is, what gods are these, exactly, who roam creation in their birthday suits? I thought gods had robes and stuff. Maybe Brazil is too hot. Whatever. If a god wants to take it all off, who are we to say no?

I sure won't. I'm just going to enjoy this professional, award-winning, world-acclaimed folk dance company, whose passionate performances and soulful narratives are based on African slave history, samba, capoiera and carnaval, and comes from one of the most sensual places on the planet.

Nudity, schmudity.


I agree with you.
Yet I must remark that the very idea of nudity sends the American psyche into incoherent fits. For example high brow Brazilian folk art at the Flynn is above reproach, but a Montreal style club for blue collar nudity fans would be a travesty and the everybody would be up in arms. At the end of the day what's the difference?

What's the difference between Brazilian folk art and a strip club? The self esteem of the dancers for starters. Then there's the intent of the performance, the intent of the audience, and the interpretations of the performance. Stated simply, the audience at a strip club is attending for the nudity whereas the audience at the Flynn is attending for the art. That's the difference.

I've got to agree. Our experience with Rocky Horror was that warnings about adult content and nudity helped to create buzz and sell tickets (even if it was only puppet nudity).

BB I've met and known a few strippers personally and really most of what you post is a false sterotype. A lot of the girls are the exact opposite, with high self esteem and who take their job/art seriously.

When will we be able to see people for who they are and not what some stereotype says they are. Seeing a stripper as some low self esteem drug addict with Daddy issues is no different then crossing the street when you see a young black man with dreadlocks. Strippers are people too

" Stated simply, the audience at a strip club is attending for the nudity whereas the audience at the Flynn is attending for the art."

Not all nudity is art?
For some art is a $75.00 balcony seat with (no offense to Polston) opera glasses.
Slapping a fiver on a sweaty stripper's ass however is... what exactly?

Tim: Attendance at a strip club is nothing more than an attempt to objectify women.

And JCarter: Blatant racism and blatant feminism are two different things entirely. Maybe your friends are the exception to the rule, or maybe they put up a good front. Whatever the case, it is naive to think that most of the women who strip aren't doing so because of self esteem issues, or, alternatively, that their employment doesn't negatively affect their self esteem. Here's a great book if you're interested in learning more:

Yes, strippers are people too, but they're exploited and objectified ones. And I would go so far as to say that pretending otherwise is akin to thinking that racism is no longer an issue in this country because we elected a black man as president.

So, the Brazilians aren't being objectified? They are dancing naked after all, it must be because they have low self esteem. Naked Brazilians with low self esteem dancing for Vermont's opera glass wearing elite. I demand an investigation!

People. The nude Brazilians are gods!

Gods with low self esteem!


OMG. Thoroughly convinced of your own moralistic generalizations and sterotypes much? Just cuz you read a book? Exactly how did you become an authority on the self-esteem of strippers? Jesus, get over your self-righteous self and accept the possibility that your one-size-fits-all and authoritatively-expressed viewpoint may not in fact be the only correct one.

You are correct, Tim. The Brazilian dancers are not being objectified. Though not a word, they are being "subjectified."

At Stevo-O, that was a very troll-like comment, which surprises me. You're better than that. If you want to knock me off my soapbox, do so by contributing to the argument, not by calling names.

What I was correct about is that I am having fun at the expense of a dance troop who are : artists, atheletes, dedicated and serious ambassadors of the arts and their country. Please forgive me.

The overall lesson here :

If your Brazilian and dancing nude its art, if you're Canadian and dancing nude you must have low self esteem.

And yes BB it really sounds just as preposterous when you say it.

Nah, a troll would have just called you a pompous d-bag.




@BB - A lot of your statements are just as much generalizations and just as weak as the arguments of those you criticize. A good example being the "low self-esteem" generalization. Read "Candy Girl" by Diablo Cody. Great example of a stripper who doesn't pigeon-hole so well. I'm sure some strippers have self-esteem issues, but I'm also sure that some don't.

As far as objectification goes, that's fairly obviously the point. The genre of these establishments is "strip club". In other words, the idea is to go there to view nudity. The strippers themselves use pseudonyms and not their real names. It's not possible to do anything but objectify these people unless a patron could wheedle personal information out of them. Would the dancers be ok with us using their real names and giving real bio's on them? Seems unlikely. So in other words, in this particular role, most strippers would probably prefer to be objectified. How does that fit in with our characterization of strippers as being victimized? And what about sexism? I've noticed that we haven't broached the subject of male strippers. A small enough subset that it's irrelevant? Making that claim makes these arguments quite a bit thinner ...

The real question is whether objectification is inherently bad. Framing the question is the fact that every person who took employment as a stripper knew they would be objectified. So if objectifying someone is inherently bad, even when they know they're being objectified and being paid for it, then strip clubs should be shut down. But it seems likely that we you walked into a strip club and asked every stripper if we should shut the place down, most if not all would say no. Would we shut them down anyway and claim that we know better than they do what's good for them?

Point being- It's not a black and white issue. Would I want my daughter to go to work as a stripper? No. Did I do things my parents did approve of? Yes. Do I feel bad about all those actions? Some yes, some no. As with most any question of ethics/morality, the waters are murky.

@ Denali: Thank you for your insight and for contributing to the conversation; my opinions are much more likely to be swayed with intelligence, rather than stupidity.

I'll be the first to say that I don't think strip clubs should be shut down. It's a free country, allegedly. But I also don't believe they're a healthy environment the majority of the time and that's why I initially spoke up. I know there are people who are exhibitionists who will always want to do a job like that (with or without pay); my main concern is the women who wind up there for unhealthy reasons (self esteem issues, money problems, some sort of abuse, addiction issues, etc.) or who stay there for those reasons. I have to wonder what the majority of the dancers would say if you walked into the club and said "if I offered you an office job with comparable pay, would you quit this one?" Conversely, I wonder how many of the dancers in this Brazilian piece would consider doing their work for free for the sake of the art (I have no idea what money they make, if any). My instincts tell me more of the Brazilian dancers would work for free (or some pitiful daily stipend), than the number of erotic dancers who would reject comparable pay at an office job. And if that is true, I have a problem with the reality that implies.

For me, what this boils down to is what I originally said: the difference between an art performance containing nudity and a dance at a strip club is intent; the intent of the performer and the intent of the audience. My opinion is that the healthier job is the one that forces someone to think rather than the one that helps them get off.

As for male strippers, of course they’re relevant to this conversation … especially considering the Brazilian piece features male and female nudity.

"my main concern is the women who wind up there for unhealthy reasons (self esteem issues, money problems, some sort of abuse, addiction issues, etc.) or who stay there for those reasons. I have to wonder what the majority of the dancers would say if you walked into the club and said "if I offered you an office job with comparable pay, would you quit this one?""

"Money problems"? Money problems is why we ALL have jobs. And I don't think your test of "if I offered you an office job with comfortable pay" is valid. Dairy farmers would take you up on that test, too. As would all fast food workers, some tradespeople, and MANY ARTISTS! In fact, I'm not sure many strippers would. Some make a lot more money than desk jockeys, and not everyone -- including strippers -- wants a DESK JOB.

So you've made your point. You believe (without pointing to any studies except the one book you've read, which is anecdotal at best) that strippers have low esteem and are exploited.

Have a good day.

In a materialistic society the naked body is misunderstood.

More importantly - Paula, were the opera glasses needed?

Pamela here, and no. (I forgot them anyway.) The show was fantastic, and clothing or lack thereof was irrelevant. Highly recommended, if they ever brave the Vermont cold again!

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