Twerking has been part of the hip-hop dance scene for years, but Miley Cyrus brought the pelvic perambulation to mainstream consciousness with her controversial performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. Now, it is not hard to image that twerking will follow pole dancing into fitness studios and exercise routines all across America.
For the still unaware, twerking is a movement performed by taking a wide stance with the legs, bending the torso forward and rapidly thrusting the hips in and out with enough energy to jiggle the mass of one’s gluteus maximus. The more ample the booty, the more dramatic the effect.
Miley – formerly famous as the TV character Hannah Montana – seems an unlikely person to bring notoriety to the twerk. This is not so much because of her past as a Disney moppet. She is hardly the first Disney kid star to leave innocence behind with a bold leap into raunchy adulthood (think Lindsay Lohan). Rather it is because Miss Cyrus lacks the physical assets needed to give full expression to the twerk. She is just a waif with a boyish butt. And when it comes to sensual dancing skills, she is no Shakira. As demonstrated onstage, Miley galumphs more than she gyrates.
What got tongues wagging were the details she added to her twerking. For one thing, there was her own well-endowed, wagging tongue. Added to that were onanistic hand moves and a big foam finger that she thrust between her legs and used to stroke the zipper on the striped pants being worn by co-performer Robin Thicke.
What really aroused or appalled observers was how she backed her twerking hips against Thicke’s crotch, but that, as any twerking aficionado knows, simply completes the twerk. It takes a movement that is rather comical when done solo and turns it into a carnal pas de deux. As any beleaguered chaperone will tell you, the same thing can be witnessed at a typical high school prom.
So, does the onstage twerking provide clear evidence that Miley is on a downward slide, as all the moralistic chatter from the gossip mavens implies? Is she, like Lohan, bound for jail time and long stays in rehab?
Not necessarily. Even her notorious new music video, “Wrecking Ball,” in which there are glimpses of the gal totally nude other than the work boots on her feet, does not prove Miley lacks self-respect. The images have an artful, European aesthetic that is a far cry from the ho’s-in-my-crib tastelessness of the average music video.
And is she bound for substance abuse? In a Rolling Stone interview last June, Miley implied that she doesn’t mind an occasional toke, but would be uncomfortable binging at a college party.
“I’ve seen a lot of people spiral down with alcohol, but I’ve never seen that happen with weed,” she said. “As long as it isn’t illegal, there are far more dangerous things. And it’s legal in the state of California. So I’m happy to live in California, a place where you can be whoever you want to be.”
She may not have a perfect understanding of the drug laws in the Golden State, but it’s way too early to dismiss Miley Cyrus as another self-destructive celebrity. She never really was Hannah Montana. Maybe she’s just finding the artist she wants to be – quirky and twerky, but closer to her true self.