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“To Twerk or Not to Twerk? Where choreography flips or flops”
With the sexualization of the majority of performing artists’ shows, every vocal artist seems to be required to wow the audience with their body. Miley Cyrus was no exception at the Video Music Awards (VMA) where she stirred reaction from shock to awe with her twerking. Cyberspace whirled with commentary on the appropriateness of the venue and whether twerking was even a dance move at all. Artists defended her choice as a successful publicity stunt, but what did other people in the music industry or music video production, such as choreographers and stylists, think, since their jobs are to make their clients look great on stage? Here is what a couple of them had to say:
I am an internationally recognized artist and designer. I also have been involved with dance much of my life and was a founding teacher at the Houston Contemporary Dance Theater (now Metropolitan Dance Company). Many of my art and design clients are entertainers and dancers. I have been featured in 28 books, most major newspapers and magazines, on TV, radio and in film.
In my opinion Miley Cyrus did not choose a dance move that made the most of her physique. She is very fit and has a great, muscular–if thin–figure. While certainly getting attention, she would have been better served to have been choreographed in a jazz ballet style routine. Unfortunately, she got attention for taking the boring, predictable, butt wiggling twerk, which is now hum drum, to a vulgar extreme.
I also did not like the “hot pants.” With her wonderful lines she should have worn a leotard, tights or designer costume. My suggestion to the majority of performing artists who have to wow the audience with their body is to study the great jazz dancers and choreographers of the past. It would also help to have a first rate artist with dance experience to design sets that also wow the audience. Frankly fireworks, glitter and simulated sex being called a dance performance is becoming so predictable as to be borderline annoying. I would refer anyone interested to a Mexican comedy classic movie, “El Bolero de Raquel,” to see how wonderful a great body, doing a great dance, on a great set can be. And it’s sensual without being vulgar. It is also hard to beat “An American in Paris” with Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron for great dance.
Artist & Designer
I’m a 25-year-old dance choreographer and fashion designer. This topic is something I’ve had many discussions about. I loved Miley Cyrus’ performance. I actually thought it was a mature development for the context in which it was used. If it was the Grammys I would have said the platform was wrong, but this was the VMAs. A lot of the performance also aligned with clips from both artists’ (Cyrus and Thicke) music videos.
When it comes to the VMAs, the ability to create controversy is a sign of status in pop culture. Unlike the Grammys which are voted on by music professionals, the VMAs are voted on by fans; taking that into consideration, this is culturally and historically a more acceptable stage to push boundaries and display iconic statements.
With Miley’s performance utilizing “twerking” and scandalous attire, she was able to get people talking simply by replicating elements of her music video on stage for a video music awards performance. While personally, I see little value to twerking, it’s become a signature dance move for youth the same way grinding did in the 90s. Think about the shock response the two piece bathing suit- this isn’t any different. Over time, we learn to embrace change in our culture. Entertainers are often what challenge the standard, and it’s been that way for years. Put simply: Sex sells. As someone who is a fashion designer, choreographer and singer, I applaud Miley’s performance. She let loose in a time when celebrities are over-scripted and have lost their authenticity. I tip my hat.