Icons of Identity: Concert Dance as a Gallery for American Themes
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A dance performance contains an overwhelming number of elements for the audience to behold: the choreography, accompaniment, costuming, sets, and performances, all contributing to a potential meaning to take from the work. Therefore, a dance performance is a means for choreographers to comment on history, whether they address events of their present or reflections on the past. Like an art museum, a dance performance can be viewed as an exhibit for historic commentary: a carefully constructed presentation of what the curator or choreographer wants the audience to see and experience. To examine the relationship between dance performances and museum presentations, I studied the works of American 20th century dance by Martha Graham, Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine, and Anna Sokolow. I then choreographed an evening-length piece, Columbia, Manifest, to be performed in the Phillips Museum of Art. Acting as choreographer and curator, I discovered that placing the performance in a gallery space enhanced the kinesthetic engagement of the audience, enabling them to reflect more deeply upon the historical themes embedded in the choreography. Through both the analytical and creative portions of my research, I have concluded that dance performances and museum galleries function well in tandem. Together, they create a forum for choreographers to put history on display. In viewing this presentation, audience members do not just see the historical elements, but feel them through their kinesthetic response to the work.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2016
- F&M Theses Collection