The Moving Identity: Explorations in the Body's Capacity for Communication, Expression, and Understanding Open Access

Joss, Julianna (2017)

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The topic of identity is often left to verbal and written means. Inspired by previous modern dance pioneers and pertinent historical examples that demonstrate the intersection of social change and identity, I challenged the conventions and employed movement as a vehicle to research the body's capacity for communication and expression of identity. Two separate explorations of movement and identity occurred. The first was a solo I created for myself surrounding my personal identity. The second was a four-part group piece with five dancers, which explored these dancers' individual identities, the contrasting relationships between identities, the dynamic tension of collective versus individual identity, and finally group identity.

In a highly personal, collaborative process, we created movement by sharing our own stories about what shapes and influences us, in addition to asking the direct, yet complex question, "Who are we?" Through the course of creating the work, performing, and receiving feedback from both the dancers inside of the process and audience members who witnessed the performance, I gained several insights. Identity is not solely about categorizing or labeling, though labels are an aspect of identity. One most also consider the space between the different intersections that constitute a human - their values, their relationships, and their histories. Additionally, the act of seeing and bearing witness to one another's lives carries a tremendous impact when empowering one another. Finally, authentic movement can be a powerful tool to communicate identity, foster understanding, and most importantly, breed empathy. Thus, its transformative power to act as a tool of social change holds great potential.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction 1

II. Topic Formulation 2

A. Dance and Movement Studies Major Coursework 2

B. Personal Narrative 5

C. Science and the Nature of Evidence Final Paper 7

III. Background 10

A. Examples of Dance and Identity 10

B. Case Study: Pearl Primus 13

C. Psychology of Human Movement Overview 17

D. Laban and Jung's Movement Psychology 18

E. Key Points on Identity 20

IV. Process 21

A. Phase 1: Fall Semester 21

B. The Space Between (Solo) 28

C. To Be Seen: I. each. 32

D. To Be Seen: II. to. 35

E. To Be Seen: III. other. 37

F. To Be Seen: IV. one. 40

G. Elements of Design 42

H. Entering Performance 45

I. Performance 46

V. Findings and Discussion 47

A. Cast Narratives 47

B. Audience Feedback 50

C. Discussion 55

VI. Conclusion 57

Appendix A: Thesis Concerts Promotional Flyer 59 Appendix B: CultureSHOCK Publicity 60 Appendix C: CultureSHOCK Photographs 62 Appendix D: Concert Program 66 Appendix E: Project Budget 67 Appendix F: Emory Dance Blog Post 68 Appendix G: Performance Photographs 73 Appendix H: Costume Sketches 80 Appendix I: Post-Concert Audience Feedback Form 83 Appendix J: Rehearsal Snapshots 84 Appendix K: Rehearsal Schedule 86

References 87

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