Gracing the Stage: Japanese Inflections in Grace Jones' Performance Practice

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract / Description of output

"I couldn't dance but I knew how to walk and how to freeze."
Jones, I'll Never Write My Memoirs, p. 149

Despite transitioning from model to singer and live performer, Grace Jones revealed that she "was never a very good dancer". Instead, Jones' utilises the power of stillness on stage, a technique that has a long and international history. The cover of Jones' 1985 album Island Life, for example, sees Jean-Paul Goude's portrait, Arabesque, elongate and distort Jones' limbs into both an otherworldly and curiously static vision of a dancer.

Taking the Arabesque image as its starting point, this paper explores the evolution of Jones' performance vocabulary and elucidates significant cross-cultural influences on her sculptural aesthetic. More specifically, it draws particular parallels with Japanese Kabuki theatre (introduced to Jones through her collaborations with Issey Miyake), and explores her unique reinterpretations of Kabuki mie (poses) in this transitional period. In doing so, it suggests that the construction of her performance identity incorporates non-Western sources in order to evolve a new aesthetic which problematises established norms of gender and racial identity.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2017
EventLadies and Gentlemen, Miss Grace Jones - Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Oct 20176 Oct 2017


ConferenceLadies and Gentlemen, Miss Grace Jones
Abbreviated titleGrace Jones symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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