Lizzie Feidelson

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Four Views on Realness

Four Views on Realness

The opening number of a diva is performed like an encore.

Divas (like queers, like dancers) must be smart, or at least smarter than their abusers. They must suffer shame and ridicule and emerge triumphant, strong as steel and wholly themselves. Let alone being a queer performer, being a dancer is already pretty queer. It’s a bizarre, strict, bound life—at least in childhood, when time is eaten up by training. The dancer-in-training might love the rigor, or she might not; regardless, she goes to class every afternoon.

Callas's Medea

Callas's Medea

A diva approaches her entire career like a woman spurned.

Critics were surprised at the subtlety of Callas’ camera acting, but they shouldn’t have been. Callas experienced her darkest rages in private. Her secretary describes a late-night call from Onassis that sent Callas into hysterics on the eve of the first day of filming. The staff tried to console her, but when it got late, they made to leave Callas in privacy. “You’re going to abandon me now? You’re just like him! None of you care!” She reportedly yelled.

The Merce Cunningham Archives

The Merce Cunningham Archives

The dancer or the dance?

Cunningham’s own notes on choreography often look like cave paintings. Stick figures march unevenly across the page, followed by diagrams and phrases, some barely legible, scribbled beside leaning columns of numbers. They communicate the inspired tremor of the hand more than they convey information.

Four Views on Realness

Four Views on Realness

The opening number of a diva is performed like an encore.

Divas (like queers, like dancers) must be smart, or at least smarter than their abusers. They must suffer shame and ridicule and emerge triumphant, strong as steel and wholly themselves. Let alone being a queer performer, being a dancer is already pretty queer. It’s a bizarre, strict, bound life—at least in childhood, when time is eaten up by training. The dancer-in-training might love the rigor, or she might not; regardless, she goes to class every afternoon.

Callas's Medea

Callas's Medea

A diva approaches her entire career like a woman spurned.

Critics were surprised at the subtlety of Callas’ camera acting, but they shouldn’t have been. Callas experienced her darkest rages in private. Her secretary describes a late-night call from Onassis that sent Callas into hysterics on the eve of the first day of filming. The staff tried to console her, but when it got late, they made to leave Callas in privacy. “You’re going to abandon me now? You’re just like him! None of you care!” She reportedly yelled.

The Merce Cunningham Archives

The Merce Cunningham Archives

The dancer or the dance?

Cunningham’s own notes on choreography often look like cave paintings. Stick figures march unevenly across the page, followed by diagrams and phrases, some barely legible, scribbled beside leaning columns of numbers. They communicate the inspired tremor of the hand more than they convey information.