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Chanje Kunda: The poet using pole dancing to explain particle physics

From BBC - October 23, 2017

Poetry, pole dancing and particle physics do not often meet. But they do in a new theatre show by a performer who wants to reclaim the way the female body is portrayed.

Poet, playwright and performance artist Chanje Kunda took lessons in several forms of dance to prepare for her latest one-woman show Superposition - ballet dancing, contemporary dancing, pole dancing and lap dancing.

The latter two are normally performed in certain clubs for certain men, but Kunda is reinventing them for her own positive purpose.

"I wanted to explore female sensuality and eroticism because female sensuality within the media has been commodified and cheapened and exploited, and I wanted to try and find new ways as a feminist to be able to celebrate that," she says.

It was her movement director who suggested she have pole dancing lessons.

"It's not for people who want to become strippers - it's about how to be confident with your body, with your own sensuality, and also it's about fitness and strength and doing the things that make you feel fabulous regardless of your size," she says.

"It's about being comfortable in your skin and being able to celebrate your sensuality."

In one section of the show called The Lonely Chair, Kunda "uses the movement vocabulary of erotic dance to express feelings of loneliness and sadness". With a chair.

She combines movement and dance with her linguistically luscious poetry, which riffs on the big questions of life and the universe, such as "what are the real laws of attraction?"

Kunda explains: "I decided to research the laws of attraction by interviewing particle physicists, a professor of philosophy and also attend a lap dancing course, because they might have a different take on laws of attraction.

"I found that research absolutely fascinating, very intellectually stimulating and very inspiring."

'Body and intellect'

So, in one part of the show, she explains attraction by drawing parallels between the workings of particles and the workings of nightclubs - while pole dancing.

She gives an example of one of her lines: "If an atom was a nightclub, the nucleus would be dancing in the middle of the dancefloor and the electron would be orbiting the nucleus getting to see its sexiness from all angles.

"So I am explaining about how atoms and particles work, whilst spinning."

Movement is married with scientific themes throughout the show. It's a deliberate attempt to "celebrate and elevate your body, your physicality, your beauty" while at the same time "being valued for your intellect and your thoughts", she says.

PPI to the rescue

Begged, stole and borrowed

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