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Dance to Change, Dance to Heal


This qualitative study explores dance as a therapeutic coping mechanism used by those affected by change due to a stressful life event. This research identifies key components of dance as a holistic approach to control stressful life events. It adds to the existing body of knowledge of more healthy ways to manage an individual’s wellness.

This investigation is divided into three parts. Research on dance professionals, Joan Skinner, Erick Hawkins, Ohad Naharin, and Anna Halprin, provide a background of incorporating dance as a coping mechanism. Interviews of pre-professional, professional, and recreational dancers demonstrate how dance has been used to relieve stress and an adjustment tool to life change. Using key components identified by dance professionals and interviewed participants, along with a personal stressful life event experience, I create and present an abstract dance concert, FLUX. Themes that emerged from all parts of this study include a strengthened sense of identity as well as sense of heightened awareness and mind body connections, which could contribute as advantageous to an individual’s mental and physical well-being.

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