Scorpions have long dominated the South Asian imaginary as a metaphor for female erotic arousal. Scorpion/female narratives appear not only in myriad regional theatre and performance practices across India, but have also seeped into pop music and mainstream film song-and-dance sequences. Interspecies encounters of women being "stung" by a scorpion have particularly been incorporated into song-and-dance interludes to represent embodied experiences of erotic pleasure. A shared gestural and affective vocabulary with the arachnid allows female arousal to be both elusively and excessively theatricalized. This essay analyzes how the scorpion/female narratives in the song-and-dance interludes challenge the larger heteronormative, andro- and anthropocentric structures of theatre, performance, and cinematic forms. The dreaded-yet-desired commingling between women and scorpions in these song-and-dance sequences not only decenters the male from erotic imaginaries, but also pronounces him dispensable to female pleasure. These intimate though antagonistic interspecies imaginaries also trouble theatre and performance studies' hegemonic demands of visibility, intelligibility, and choreography. Examples of song-and-dance sequences show how such metaphoric and gestural articulations "queerly" blur the boundaries between human and animal, where the female actor/dancers indulge in their fiery sensations as "stung" victims, and also often perform as the vicious scorpions themselves.


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pp. 289-306
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