Moving Identities
: Multiplicity, Embodiment and the Contemporary Dancer

  • Jennifer Roche

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Currently, across dance studies, choreographies are usually discussed as representational of the choreographer, with little attention focused on the dancers who also bring the work into being. As well as devaluing the contribution that the dancer makes to the choreographic process, the dancer’s elision from mainstream discourse deprives the art form of a rich source of insight into the incorporating practices of dance. This practice-based research offers a new
    perspective on choreographic process through the experiential viewpoint of the participating dancer. It involves encounters with contemporary choreographers Rosemary Butcher (UK), John Jasperse (US), Jodi Melnick (US) and Liz Roche (Ire). Utilizing a mixed-mode research structure, it covers the creative process and performance of three solo dance pieces in Dublin in 2008, as well as an especially composed movement treatise, all of which are documented
    on the attached DVD.

    The main hypothesis presented is that the dancer possesses a moving identity which is a composite of past dance experience, anatomical structures and conditioned human movement. This is supported by explorations into critical theory on embodiment, including Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of ‘the habitus’. The moving identity is identified as accumulative, altering through encounters with new choreographic movement patterns in independent contemporary dance practice. The interior space of the dancer’s embodied experience is made explicit in chapter 3, through four discussions that outline the dancer’s creative labour in
    producing each choreographic work. Through adopting a postmodern critical perspective on human subjectivity, supported by Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and Alain Badiou, among others, the thesis addresses the inherent challenges which face independent contemporary dancers within their multiple embodiments as they move between different choreographic processes. In identifying an emergent paradigmatic shift in the role of dancer within dance-making practices, this research forges a new direction that invites further dancer-led initiatives
    in practice-based research.
    Date of Award2009
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Roehampton
    SupervisorCarol Brown (Supervisor) & Stephanie Jordan (Supervisor)

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