169 Seconds: Improbable Dialogisms or Dancing as an Act of Defiance

In Yorgos Lanthimos’s Dogtooth, the elder daughter’s awkward dance for her parents’ wedding anniversary can be interpreted as a subtle form of protest, which is promptly suppressed by her mother. By linking this scene to the more overtly provocative dances in Julia Ducournau’s Raw and Titane, and in Pablo Larraín’s Ema, I aim to conduct a feminist intervention similar to that of my previous video essay, “Improbable Dialogisms or the Art of Flying”, also published here in 16:9.

Through techniques such as fragmentation, repetition, comparison, cacophony, and replay, the present video essay explores the unlikely intertextual connections between these dance scenes and reconstructs a performance in which the dancers support and empower each other in defiance of patriarchal norms. By breaking down barriers (graphically represented by the purple grid), their movements subvert traditional perceptions of the female ballerina dancer as fragile and pure. Moreover, the elder daughter in Lanthimos’s film is in a sense saved by the collective power of these other bodies and their ability to challenge traditional gender roles and expectations through dance.

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Concept, Design, and Editing by Barbara Zecchi.

Images and Sound (cited according to fair use policies):

  • Yorgos Lanthimos Kynodontas (Dogtooth), Greece, 2009
  • Julia Ducournau Grave (Raw), France, 2016
  • Julia Ducournau Titane (Titanium), France, 2022
  • Pablo Larraín Ema, Chile, 2019
  • 169 Jingle by Mathias Bonde Korsgaard