Finding Their Dance:

: A study of the narratives and claims of alterations of belief systems amongst non-professional dancers.

  • Williams Deborah

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

Abstract

In the history of dance research, social and recreational dance and dancers have often occupied a lesser status within the field and within the dance canon. Thus, the voices of non-professional or amateur dancers are less represented, and have received limited recognition for their contribution. This thesis focuses on the stories of such individuals whose dance experiences are outside of professional training or ‘art’ dance circumstances. It examines their narratives, to illustrate and illuminate the perceptions of and perspectives about dance and dancers, and the place dance holds within a larger social context.

The central focus of the thesis is the claims by individuals who believe their adult lives have been significantly impacted or transformed by their interactions with dancing and dance events. Many of those interviewed stated that their relationship or association to dance practice in childhood and adolescence was limited or non-existent, and included views that were rooted in either negative or preconceived perceptions. Thus, their constructed belief systems about dance and dancers were based upon personal or social interactions or influences. Through a meeting or encounter with dance in adulthood, these convictions were altered, and dance became a prominent activity in their lives; so much so, that it influenced aspects of their identity, social groups, and professional occupations.

Transformative learning theory serves as the primary lens through which the stories are examined, and offers an approach that is unique to adult learning and experience. Working from a constructivist perspective, the theory posits that knowledge and belief systems are accumulated throughout a person’s life, resulting in defined ‘points of view’ and fixed ‘habits of mind’ (Mezirow 1991). At times experiences emerge that confront this knowledge in such a way that the prior views are called into question, resulting in an altered perspective. Other contributing approaches include peak experience (Maslow 1943), and flow (Csíkszentmihályi 1998) which work together to analyse the participants’ voices in such a way that their stories of significance experiences and knowledge are highlighted.

What the narratives provide are insights into the development of belief systems about dance/dancing/dancers, many of which evolved from social expectations, or unexpected encounters with people and/or events. What is unique is their individual viewpoints and commentary on the subject, that, when analysed, develop into larger patterns for analysis. As such, what is contributed is a greater understanding of the role dance plays in the lives of non-professional dancers.
Date of Award24 Apr 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SupervisorAndrée Grau (Supervisor) & Ann R. David (Supervisor)

Cite this

Finding Their Dance:: A study of the narratives and claims of alterations of belief systems amongst non-professional dancers.
Deborah, W. (Author). 24 Apr 2018

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis