Interpretive dance is just that- interpretive. It’s meant to go beyond visual appeal, to tell a story without words.
Sia’s new video for “Elastic Heart” from her album 1000 Forms of Fear showcases 12 year old Maggie Ziegler (previously featured in Sia’s Grammy nominated “Chandelier” video) and 28 year old Shia LaBeouf engaged in an emotional interpretive dance. The pair, wearing nude colored clothing, dance in a giant cage in a way that can be described as both emotionally and physically intense (also intense? Shia’s bod. Hey, I’ll admit it). They both represent warring sides of Sia herself.
I enjoyed Sia’s decision to have such actors so different (age, gender, appearance) to represent different aspects of herself, the feminine and masculine side. More often than not, females in pop music not only focus on the female aspect of themselves, but an exaggerated form of it. Are people just not receptive to the idea of a feminine and masculine side? Sia wrote on her twitter “All I can say is Maddie and Shia are two of the only actors I felt could play these two warring ‘Sia’ self states.” and later added “I apologize to those who feel triggered by ‘Elastic Heart.’ My intention was to create some emotional content, not to upset anybody.” She was not too defensive or blaming others for seeing things differently, she was to the point and very respectful in her apology.
Much of the reasoning for peoples dislike of the video is the way they are dressed- but no one blinked an eye at Maggie wearing the exact same outfit in the Chandelier video (In fact many have replicated it). It’s once Shia is thrown into the mix, a dirty, muscular contradiction to her prepubescent frame that people became outraged. They are both in clothing quite typical of dancers and I’m sure if the genders of the two were reversed, it would be taken very differently. Comments would be more about the complicated relationship between mothers and sons. Why is it that when we see an older male and a younger female interacting, we must immediately sexualize her?
Sia performed the song on the Jan.17 episode of SNL, accompanied by Maggie but not Shia. Instead there was an older woman dressed identical to Maggie.The performance was great (Sia’s voice is just as lovely live) but I felt the message was completely different with a second female dancer. I don’t blame Sia for the change, no one wants their art to be associated with something as disturbing as pedophilia.
I personally, think the whole album 1000 Forms of Fear is dynamite. It’s personal, catchy, and backed up with a ton of talent. It’s unfortunate that all involved had to have their art met with so much controversy, but I guess that’s just part of art. I’ve linked the video below. Thoughts?