Monthly Archives: December 2016

Lisa Duffy presents “Interacting with ‘Flaming Trails of Masculinity’: Female Sexual Awakening in Classical Hollywood Dream Ballets”


Dream ballets, a fantasy trope which permeated classical Hollywood musicals during the post-war years, permit characters to explore a metaphorical erotic freedom, which enhances their ability to investigate and ultimately obtain their desires. Emotions and sexuality are coded into the movement of the dancers’ bodies, causing dance to function much in the same way dreams do by presenting themes in an abstract manner. The content of these sequences is sharply divided down gender lines—while the dreams of men allow them to identify and pursue their true desire, the dreams of women focus on their sexual awakening. It is this latter group that this paper will explore, examining the dream ballets found in Oklahoma! (1955), Lili (1953), and The Pirate (1948). Each of these sequences unfold from the anxieties of the dreamer and centre on interacting with a dark, fearsome portrayal of masculinity. The dream space provides a safe place for the characters to explore a more transgressive side of sexuality, permitting them to act on subversive desires which would lead to ostracisation if carried out in their diegetic realities. By processing their sexual awakenings in the realm of dream ballets, the women are prepared to be romantically paired off in the waking world.

Wednesday, 14 December, 5:15 pm. ArtsOne, Hitchcock Cinema (G19).

To be followed by drinks and holiday merriment.


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