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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Rediscovering Breath: A Tool to Expand Awareness and Spirituality in Dance

  • Author(s): Maughan, Stefanie Regan
  • Advisor(s): Wang, Tong
  • et al.

This thesis research project is comprised of a written document and choreographic work. The choreographic work was presented in the Claire Trevor Theatre at the University of California, Irvine on May 6 and 7, 2014. The presentation consisted of a half-hour length contemporary ballet piece entitled "LUMINOSITY: the quality of being intellectually brilliant, enlightened, inspired" created with the intention to abstractly illustrate the journey of the mind as it transitions from a state of fluctuating, destructive chaos to quiet stillness and then from quiet stillness to brilliant, spiritual enlightenment.

The supporting research paper examines the purpose of the mindful use of the breath advocated in western Hatha-Yoga practices and in the Pilates Method developed by Joseph H. Pilates. Breath awareness, a fundamental principle to these and many other mind-body and somatic practices, is explored to further understand the consequence an observance of the breath has on unifying the mind, body, and spirit of an individual. A particular focus is placed on the yogic philosophy that addresses the power of the breath to still fluctuations in the mind, reawaken awareness of the present moment, and deepen spirituality through that process. The philosophy of dance as a spiritual expression and healing art is addressed through the perspective of American modern dance forerunners, Ruth St. Denis and Isadora Duncan. The concepts of interiority and internal awareness are investigated throughout the choreographic process by integrating breath and meditation exercises, somatic-based improvisation, discussion, and self-reflection into each rehearsal. The choreographic investigation and findings from that study are documented in this work.

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