Somatic dance as a medium of connection to the more-than-human world
AffiliationOffice for Environmental Programs
Document TypeMasters Coursework thesis
Access StatusOnly available to University of Melbourne staff and students, login required
© 2017 Britany Laidlaw
Many scholars suggest the primary reason for our current state of socio-ecological crisis is the persistent social construction of human-nature dichotomies. This dualism implies humans are separate from and superior to the more-than-human. Hence, a surge of researchers and practitioners have advocated for the importance of (re)connection with the more-than-human as a transformational tool for developing more ethical relationships with our environments. Yet research shows that effective forms of connection must be felt through the multi-sensory feeling body, not just the thinking mind. Acknowledging this challenge, this thesis uncovers the case of somatic dance as a potent tool for embodied connection with the more-than-human. In doing so, it highlights the capacity of dance to cultivate a sensory-informed worldview of interdependency and hence, responsibility. This investigation draws from theories in materiality, phenomenology, object-oriented ontology, ecosophy and somatic ecology that are used to shape a clear vision of somatic dance into the future. This study identifies and discusses three key areas of research that describe how dance is currently understood as a medium of connection across the dance community. These are; 1) body as place/earth; 2) embodying shared agency; and 3) rhythms of bodily becoming. These were grouped with a view to synthesise any similarities, conflicts or gaps that may direct further research. Lastly, this investigation draws from Andrea Olsen’s Body and Earth program as a practice-based method for knowledge creation. This somatic dance practice was conducted to gather new insights currently unknown to the field. Personal participation in the program revealed a five stage process through which more-than-human connection was made possible. I describe these steps as; 1) an open willingness to surrender; 2) whole-body listening; 3) moving as one; 4) finding identity through place-making; and 5) reverence and gratitude. Whilst this process was not always linear and each stage facilitated connection is its own right, this process nevertheless outlines the essential ingredients which enabled more-than-human connection to occur through dance. Thus, the process represents a significant contribution to the emerging field of dance and ecology.
KeywordsMore-than-human, Somatic dance, Connection, Materiality, Agency, Bodily knowledge
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format" and choose "open with... Endnote".
- Click on "Export Reference in RIS Format". Login to Refworks, go to References => Import References