7 Pleasuresmay be one of Melbourne Festival’s most talked about shows. The premise: 12 dancers performing entirely nude for almost all of the 90-minute run time. But titillation is far from the objective (or outcome) here. Danish choreographer Mette Ingvartsen, frustrated with the lousy legacy of the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 70s, offers a response to today’s “raunch culture” and the two-dimensionality of eroticism depicted on screen. By placing a dozen naked bodies on stage, 7 Pleasuresallows us to witness, communally, the very intimate and very visceral state of ecstasy.
Ingvartsen has used nudity as an “in” – the hook into her discussion about the politics of pleasure. Early on, the dancers amass in a heap of human flesh, rolling and sliding across the stage and one another like thick-flowing lava. Gender and body parts are equally indiscernible, establishing a commonality between the bodies on stage and, by extension, the audience. We can see reflections of ourselves up there, regardless of age, sex or physique. In fact, the work as a whole seems generally unconcerned with identity; erasing the categorical distinctions and assumptions we so often make about sexual practices.