Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Late intro, first thoughts

Hi, joined the class late so I'm just catching up on an intro and first thoughts...

This past summer, I was in Tokyo. It was during july, when the sumo tournament was happening, and I ended up canceling all sorts of plans to sit in my hotel room on the 84th floor, order room service, and video the tv with my camcorder. I was totally obsessed with sumo, for a couple reasons: 1- these enormous masses of fleshy men were as agile and flexible as many ballet dancers I've known and 2- the culture of sumo, the before and after the match parts of the wrestling, was changing-- a romanian wrestlers had punched a mirror after one match and then beat on a reporter, a disrespect that had never happened before in the sumo arena.
These elements of sumo brought me back to junior high school days, when I lived in Northern Maine, and would spend every weekend watching WWF matches at my friend's house, noshing on lard-fried potatos and listening to her brother Nelson Jr. yell like Macho Man Randy Savage at the tv. I liked the showmanship of it all; mostly I loved the athleticism. I had daydreams about flying off the top rope, or lifting someone over my head. When I was dancing in college and professionally, it was exactly these daydreams I was following through on (my final dance project at Brown involved a year-long study of how to fall/ take impact, and was probably a poor, subconcious mimic of the dynamism of every WWF match I saw as a kid). I'm in the graduate program of the Visual Arts department. I do a lot of performance work, costume and interactive clothing design, some exercize apparati.
So far, what I'm most attracted to as we watch the matches and documentaries is still the amazing athleticism and choreography. I love watching huge musclebound people throw eachother around (and, now that we've seen midget matches, also little muscle-bound people). I'm also captured by the way good/ evil dialetics play out in the ring and out. I'm fascinated by the spatial relations/ the ring and arena architecture and how each wrestler inhabits and utilizes the set elements. I'm a little in love with Moolah, who I didn't know about before last week. Gorgeous George keeps popping into my head/ I was trying to figure out if he was wearing lipstick....... but more on all that, and the readings, later as I catch up.

1 comment:

Sam Ford said...

Kate, thanks for the great introduction, and we welcome you to the class. As I come at this looking at the media angle and the narrative and the colorful history and the audience interaction and the fan community, etc., etc., it is very exciting to have someone who is looking at this from a performance perspective and to have another grad-student voice in the class as well.

Looking forward to your catchup posts for this week as you get a chance to make it up-to-date in the readings, but I think your initial observations are intriguing. It's one of the reason I tried to build several actual wrestling performances into the class, and why we are trying to cram in so much viewing in the class, especially early on. I want to have more class-based discussion, not just through the blog, as the class moves along, but it's important that we all have a common visual reserve to draw upon, and this fast-paced primer on wrestling history and the evolution of the performance is key.

They aren't all exciting matches, but I hope that they put us all on the same page as we start entering into some more analytical discussions as the semester progresses.

Look forward to your help in our continued discussion about the wrestling performances involved, Kate!