Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Re-imagining Modern Dance as Transnational Phenomenon Through the Lens of Yoga
by Miller, Kara Lynn, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2015, 265; 3706646
Abstract (Summary)

Over the past 150 years yoga philosophy and asana practices have circulated to the U.S. and been incorporated into various modern dance techniques. Aspects of yoga are present in the dance community and practice through posture exercises in warm-ups, approaches to the creative process of making choreography utilizing theories of space, and performance philosophies through understanding of the relationship of the mind, self, body, and breath. Yoga philosophy and asana practice worked alongside and discreetly contributed to the development of modern dance in the U.S. beginning with dancers and choreographers in the early 1900s and continue in contemporary practice today.

This dissertation re-imagines modern dance as transnational phenomenon through the lens of yoga. The methodology utilized for this examination is an interdisciplinary approach that includes research of dance literature, film, and performance practice to trace the circulation of ideas and exchange in these two practices and points of contact and acculturation between artists. In addition to a historical and contextual overview, there are interviews with internationally recognized modern, postmodern, and contemporary dance teachers and choreographers. The yoga-in-dance narrative also embraces an experiential perspective weaving my dance experience as a choreographer, performer, and teacher through self-inquiry and questioning.

How have yoga practices circulated to the U.S. and become incorporated into modern dance teaching, technique, and choreography? What does it mean for a tradition when artists in a different country approach the practice without the same identifying notions? How are contemporary modern dance teachers and choreographers experimenting with yoga philosophy and asana as a way of knowing and creating relationship with the body, the self, and the earth through movement?

Yoga has influenced dance technique teaching, choreography, and performance through changes and shifts in practice and artistic exchange through friendship, conversation, flow, and collaboration. The circumstances under which threads of yoga practice have become blended into modern dance provide perspectives that communicate a history and experience of displacement in representation and cultural ownership. This generates a need for the recognition of difference in past and present aesthetics. Yoga textualities in dance practice and performance also cultivate situated knowledges as ways of knowing through holistic awareness, friendship in collaborative exchange, and synergy. This dissertation generates possibilities for dancing bodies to re-imagine questions of transmission, diaspora, and the experience of creative impulse in artistic process.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hunter, Lynette
Commitee: Fisher, Jennifer, Venkatesan, Archana
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Performance Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Dance, Performing Arts, Spirituality
Keywords: Breath, Dance, Meditation, Somatics, Yoga
Publication Number: 3706646
ISBN: 978-1-321-80689-2
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