Form and Content: A Methodology for Finding and/or Making Meaning in Dance
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"What was it about?" is a question that frequently follows modern dance performances. The idea that a dance is always about something is common. Yet, the answer is often complex. A dance may have an intricate narrative, explore a deep theme, or it may not be about anything. Generations of modern dance artists have grappled with this question in various ways, resulting in a long discourse on the ideas of form and content, and how we get at meaning. Choreographers such as Pina Bausch and Merce Cunningham have taken contrasting approaches to form and content—both get at meaning in different ways. And both are esteemed, renowned choreographers. The discourse on form and content is the core of my research. I began this research with the intent to dissect form and content. I wondered how form and content are approached in dance. What are the meanings of the terms “form” and “content?" How do artists deal with the relationship between form and content? How do I experience dance in terms of these concepts? Does a hierarchy exist between form and content? As I dove into these questions a new challenge emerged. The concept of "meaning" is woven into ideas of form and content and I quickly discovered that it must be addressed. The unfolding of my research continued and the focus expanded to include the idea of meaning. What is meaning? What makes dance meaningful? How do we find or create meaning? After deep explorations of these questions, I argue that the dissection of form and content helps us to find and better understand meaning in dance.
Franklin and Marshall College Archives, Undergraduate Honors Thesis 2016
- F&M Theses Collection