The Disney imperium made Snow White the epitome of the happy girl in films and leisure parks. Audiences from Los Angeles to Hong Kong are enchanted by their waving and smiling princess actresses. Choreographer Eisa Jocson observes this apparently universal performance of happiness from a particular perspective: Disneyland Hong Kong is one of the most important employers of Philippine dancers in the region but, because of their skin colour, they are only cast in nameless supporting roles.

Together with performance artist Russ Ligtas, Eisa Jocson hijaks Snow White’s physicality and speech and creates a playing field of identities. By means of mimicry and reproduction they overwrite the entertainment system’s pre-programed narratives and corrupt a closed world with their foreign bodies.

In keeping with her previous solo works, Jocson continues in Princess to examine the interrelations of emotional labour, embodiment and the construction of racial and gender identities.

Eisa Jocson

Eisa Jocson is a contemporary choreographer and dancer from the Philippines. Trained as a visual artist, with a background in ballet, she won the title of 2010 Pole Art Champion in Manila.

In her work, she deals with the interconnections of ‘sex’, ‘affective work’, ‘migration’ and ‘corporeality’, for instance, by exploring the economics of pole dancing. She has also acquired the technique of macho dancing, a form of hyper masculine, erotic dance primarily practiced in Philippine gay bars, and engaged herself in the roles of Philippine hostesses, who, dressed as geishas, serve as projection surfaces for femininity and sexual desire in Japanese night clubs.

Princess, her first duo, is part one of the series HAPPYLAND, a performance trilogy that examines the labour and performance of happiness in the overall production of fantasy within the context of a globalized entertainment industry.