3- On Taylor Swift’s Posturing and Hip Hop Aesthetics in the Reputation Tour of 2018 - Mary Fogarty, York University

10:30 AM, Saturday 25 May 2019 (2 hours)
Lunch   12:30 PM to 01:30 PM (1 hour)

In 2015, the subject of Taylor Swift’s“bad” posture apparently warranted numerous articles and fan commentary. Today her statuesque posture is celebrated alongside her self-acknowledged awkward dance moves. In this paper, Taylor Swift’s self-presentation of posture on the Reputation Stadium Tour is situated in a longer surveillance history of female bodily comportment. Also, the aesthetic of her back-up dancers is situated within the American music touring business today. I argue that considering body comportment, organization, gait, and choreographic intent reveal a great deal about how touring stadium tours understand contemporary audiences and engagement. This project is based on an ethnography of the REPtour show of 2018 involving four countries and seven shows.

In Performing Rites, Simon Frith argues against reading popular music performances as texts, and I would like to continue in this theoretical foundation by considering what a sociological understanding of posture can offer to an analysis of aesthetics in popular music performances. Body comportment and “techniques of the body” (Mauss) were addressed in the emergence of sociology as a discipline, and posture has been addressed by philosophers for centuries, yet there is a little work in sociology of posturing and posing at present. The hiring of back-up dancers is industry standard where questions of volume and scale are at the forefront of entertainment considerations. I will argue that Taylor Swift’s posturing is significant precisely because of how interpretations of posture are racialized and how the arts and entertainment industries perpetuate racialized and gendered distinctions through body comportment.
York University
Graduate Program Director in Dance (MA/PhD) and Associate Professor
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