Dissolving Borders: The Integration of Writing into a Movement Practice
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AbstractThis thesis theorises the practice of three female British dance artists, Miranda Tufnell, Helen Poynor and Hilary Kneale. It engages with the central idea that a combined practice of creative writing and movement improvisation enhances the artist's articulation and assimilation of the experience of dance, consequently developing a deeper connection to the experiences of the body in relation to one's environment. Refuting common perception that the inadequacy of language fails to embody the experience of dance, I argue that the approaches used by these women contribute to a distillation of experience thus revealing the essence of movement. Importantly, it focuses on practices that have been born of the feminist consciousness that facilitated the development of both British postmodern dance and women's writing since 1970. As a result, I utilise Elizabeth Grosz's notions of freedom and writing otherwise, and David Abram's Merleau-Pontian ideas on participation to underpin theoretical endeavours. Fieldwork, in the form of interviews and the participation in/observation of various performances, workshops and training programmes, run by each of the dance artists studied, is presented. The development of my own practice resulting from these enquires is documented, analysed and appraised throughout the thesis. The Introduction outlines research questions addressed and methodological approaches undertaken before considering the historical context of each artist's unique practice. Each case study is preceded by a chapter that identifies biographical circumstances, creative choices, and socio-political conditions that have influenced the careers of these dance artists. The function of writing as a bridge between the subjective embodied experience and objective analysis of that experience is examined alongside an assessment of the scope of each practice as a method of harvesting a [re]connection with nature and its power to generate self-affirming stories. Finally, the conclusion offers thoughts on the difficulties of such an endeavour within the framework of contemporary thought that maintains its stance on the split between [body]dance and [mind]written language.
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.