My Erotic Body follows a modern-day pole dancer as she seeks to reveal the beauty in an act often misunderstood. Directed by Michelle Beck, the documentary pulls back the curtain on the hidden sensuality of pole dancing as a form of self-expression. Beck chooses to show the level of female empowerment derived, rather than tell, using provocative imagery and charismatic interviews with other women who share her love for the craft.
A voiceover narrates the story from the beginning of a girl who grew up practicing other forms of dance and stumbled upon a pole dancing class – only for women. My Erotic Body is a transformative depiction of a type of movement that otherwise has negative connotations. Beck destroys the demeaning imagery typically associated with a woman and a pole, instead exemplifying the level of feminism involved. This documentary is informative; breaking down the art of pole dancing as a means of sensuality and empowerment.
“…a modern-day pole dancer as she seeks to reveal the beauty in an act often misunderstood.”
We see a collation of shots of women of all shapes and sizes swinging around a pole, bodies accentuated with red lighting, set to an intense beat that climbs up to a climactic crescendo. Beck is our narrator, driving the story along, dropping in to add meaning to a sequence. This type of narrative technique appears often as the story progresses, accompanied by plenty of behind-the-scenes peeks into a close-knit community of women preparing for classes.
My Erotic Body explores its theme in a traditional, albeit a tad outdated, documentary filmmaking approach. Interview after interview is featured with women from classes, coaches, experts on feminism, even an owner of a famed American pole dancing studio. About midway through, we see a topic of the discussion fly across the screen, which is then met by a series of quick clips from various unidentified women, young and old, expressing how the focus makes them feel. These talking points include all aspects to consider with the dance – from the pole, the phrase, “erotic creature,” clothes, etc.
“Applaudingly feminist, this documentary is an intimate profile, which regrettably polarizes its audience…”
Stylistically, there’s nothing wrong with this plot device, but it leaves a lot to be desired. Michael Moore said it best – “[people] want the truth, and they want to be entertained.” My Erotic Body reveals a whole lot of passion and something new, but in terms of entertainment, it could do with a bit more flair and livelihood. The subject matter is fresh and opens the blinds on a topic that tends to be taboo, but it doesn’t necessarily grab you, nor does it promise to achieve a reach past a viewing base of women. Rather, it plays off as an ode to a form of dance and a movement meant for one gender; seemingly not open to the idea of remedying the image of pole dancing for all.
Applaudingly feminist, this documentary is an intimate profile, which regrettably polarizes its audience by not including the perspective of other genders – be it males, or those who are gender fluid, or merely those who aren’t immersed in the community of dancers who could offer a more diverse take. My Erotic Body could effectively speak to more of its viewers by expanding its dive into pole dancing into a less inclusive discussion on the art form. All things considered though – if you sit in the intended target audience, it’s an intriguing watch.
My Erotic Body (2017) Written and directed by Michelle Beck.
6.5 out of 10 stars