The multiple legitimacies of Tentacle Tribe

According to Hugues Bazin (2002), hip hop dancers working in theatrical settings have a "double legitimacy" as they gain acceptance in two contexts with different expectations, criteria and values. In this case study, we researched how an emerging dance company negotiates artistic identities in the entertainment, street dance and theatrical art worlds, finding acceptance across competing discourses. Tentacle Tribe, a dance company comprised of Emmanuelle Lê Phan and Elon Höglund, operates simultaneously in hip hop, contemporary dance and the entertainment world of companies such as Cirque du Soleil, receiving commercial, street and critical attention. In 2013, we interviewed them, observed their performances, rehearsals, and pedagogy to analyze their success at traversing these different contexts.
We introduce the conceptual framework of "multiple legitimacies." Multiple legitimacies are the
result of a changing cultural climate where high/low art divides have been slowly blurring, and a new model has emerged, motivated by sustainability and professional survival. Artists and
practitioners have often traversed different contexts in their performing careers. However, we
suggest that these activities are now providing a model of sustainability that is structured around new ways of organizing experiences and legitimacies. Importantly, multiple legitimacies may be observed and experienced at the level of bodily techniques and aesthetic choices. This conceptual framework allows for the reading of representations and reifications of the artist across various contexts that might otherwise seem contradictory.

Co-authored by Jonathon Osborn and Deanne Kearney 

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