The Book of Judith is a deuterocanonical bible story included in some versions of the Old Testament, but not much else. It’s been accepted not as a story full of true events, but more as one meant to prove some sort of moral point. Basically, it’s the story of a widow who in order to protect her city, dresses up like a prostitute of sorts, seduces this very important Assyrian General, and then cuts his head off. Upon handing it to her maidservant to be carried out on a platter, they waltz back to their hometown and use it to spawn courage and spirit.
I found this poem while looking for a feminist poem to choreograph to for my Gender, Sex, and Power final project. It was posted on poetryarchive.org which is a great site that gets the authors to read the poems they’ve written. If you’d like to read Judith or hear Vicki Feaver read it, give this link a looksie.
I cannot wait to get started on this project. Although Judith has been the inspiration behind a RIDICULOUS amount of art, I found this particular interpretation of her especially great on account of Judith’s implied gender consciousness. I mean one the one hand, she ditches her black widow garb, loads up on the perfume, and pulls out her tiara knowing that if she’s going to get inside of that tent, she’s gotta pull the femininity card. But then although she acknowledges what she refers to as a “rush of tenderness,” she dismisses those feelings of womanliness and carries out her original goal without further hesitation.
This idea of gender consciousness will be my main focus for those 2 minutes of poem reading. Gender needs to be remembered not only as something we ARE, but also something we DO. When gender performativity is put into the context of more performance, it’s a bit of a meta idea. How are we constantly perpetuating or breaking gender norms with our movement as dancers? Check out this video to see the final interpretation of Vicki Feaver’s Judith!