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Generating Catharsis through Dance

  • Author(s): Bitong, Leslie
  • Advisor(s): Naugle, Lisa
  • et al.
Abstract

My research was an investigation of what creates catharsis in dance. I wanted to know: how and why does dance move people? What are the qualities in contemporary dance that lead to a cathartic experience for the viewer? This required an analysis of philosophies related to: dance and its purpose, choreographic aesthetic involving emotion as a driving force, and the nature of catharsis in art. With an ensemble of undergraduate dance majors from UC Irvine, I implemented various methods and ideologies I had gathered, in an effort to choreograph work that would move an audience. I chose choreographic themes based on emotions that could be universally relatable, and in order to convey these emotions, I coached, directed, and taught movement to dancers who would perform my choreography. This process culminated in a thirty-minute work, entitled, What Remains. I kept a record of my choreographic process, comparing and contrasting my methods and their effectiveness in extracting a certain level of expressiveness from the twelve young adult dancers performing my work. After the work was performed, I reflected on what had transpired on stage, as well as feedback from audience members.

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