By Peta Tait

This pioneering research is likely one of the significant guides within the more and more renowned and principally undocumented sector of circus stories. via images and illustrations, Peta Tait provides a rare survey of one hundred forty years of trapeze acts and the socially altering principles of muscular motion with regards to our figuring out of gender and sexuality. She questions how spectators see and luxuriate in aerial activities, and what cultural identities are offered through our bodies in speedy, actual aerial circulation. Adeptly finding aerial functionality in the wider cultural background of our bodies and their identities, Circus our bodies explores this topic via a variety of motion pictures similar to Trapeze (1956) and Wings of hope (1987) and Tait additionally examines dwell performances together with: * the 1st trapeze performers: L?otard and the Hanlon Brothers* girl celebrities; Azella, Sanyeah, black French aerialist LaLa, the notorious Leona Dare, and the feminine human cannonballs* twentieth-century gender benders; Barbette and Luisita Leers* the Codonas, Concellos, Gaonas, Vazquez and Pages troupes* inventive aerial acts in Cirque de Soleil and Circus ounces productions. This ebook will end up a useful source for all scholars and students attracted to this attention-grabbing box.

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Gymnastic exercise was being championed in accordance with nineteenthcentury Euro-American beliefs that discerned moral superiority from physical appearance. Middle-class male identity was undergoing a transformation. As Gaylyn Studlar explains, ‘For character-builders the physically developed male body in motion was not only a sign of physical perfection but the primary vehicle for the expression of character as a process’ (1996: 31). In subscribing to a belief that a body had a finite amount of dynamism, social reformers championed productive physical activity over energy-wasting pursuits.

730). An impression that an aerialist was moving out of control may be most evident in casting techniques whereby a flyer’s body is thrown through space to be caught. The Hanlon-Lees with Little Bob probably invented this trick,48 and young Alfred Silbon was also being cast by the 1870s. Casting is considered less accomplished in the hierarchy of aerial flying, because it requires less muscular control by the flyer even though it requires strength and skill from a caster and a catcher. Casting with somersaults was made famous by the Potters, spectacularly so as the Peerless Potters in the 1930s.

This movement championed gymnastics and sports, and had become particularly influential on the upbringing and education of boys by the late nineteenth century. In US cities the YMCA gradually built gymnasiums, although they often had to hire less religiously inclined, retired circus performers and fighters as instructors (Mrozek 1983: 203). Stocking suggests, however, that the sublimation of aggressive male sexuality within muscular Christianity was more rhetoric than social practice (1987: 200).

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