An exploration of gender through dance with Sarah Ling

Article by Cassandra Ramsay @cassramsay

A rapidly changing society soaked in technology isn’t necessarily a new conversation, but doesn’t mean that it is any less urgent, especially when it comes to how identity and communication are affected by it.

An interest in the conversation, especially regarding the impact on gender-based issues, has been driving contemporary dancer Sarah Ling since 16 years-of-age, and these questions now inform the choices she makes as an artist and as a performer.

Specifically, the idea of pornography and the pornography industry’s effects on social ideologies of the female body is a one particular that has driven the Melbourne-based dancer, and it is this conversation that drove her to create Milkshake, which will be performed at Crack Theatre Festival this year.

“Quite often people who engage in pornography are alone in a comfortable and secluded environment” says Sarah.

“They’re not thinking about the effects these images may have on the way they think or behave. By bringing these images to the theatre they have nowhere to hide, which I hope will make them question their relationship with these images.”

milkshake image 

Milkshake, a dance piece that explores the sexualisation and representation of women within all forms of popular media, began as Sarah’s final year dance project while at Deakin University, where she studied both contemporary dance and animation.

For this second draft of the work Sarah is collaborating with Tessa Broadly.  The pair are both members of dance ensemble Hairy Thing Dance Collective (HTDC), a group of five dancers with the mission to challenge form and content of contemporary dance.

Having never performed at Crack Theatre Festival before, Sarah hopes to test the show with a new audience, embrace experimental art, and take the opportunity to showcase herself as an emerging artist.

Using feedback and experience from this outing, Milkshake will then be reformed as a duo piece with Nick Walters, another member of HTDC.

With plans to complete her honours in contemporary dance in a few years, these themes will continue to inform and drive Sarah’s work.

Sarah is currently running a Pozible crowd-funding campaign to assist with expenses while in Newcastle for Crack Theatre Festival. She is asking for very little to cover the bare essentials of her and Tessa’s time there. The campaign closes on 20 September – to find out more or discover what rewards are available, visit