Ridley, I. L. (2020). Being and Becoming: An Examination of Ekstasis, Liminality, and Communitas in Contemporary Dance. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2195
How are individuals and collectives transformed through the act of dancing? How may writing invoke the exhilarating affects dancers feel as they move and make? This thesis is grounded in three concrete sites of research with which I aim to capture the hard-to-define affective emergences that permeate contemporary dance practices. The first chapter is an historical analysis of Merce Cunningham’s choreographic and ideological processes, with a focus on the ways in which he sought and drew out ecstatic feeling in his work. The second provides an auto-ethnographic reflection on the training program at Bates Dance Festival in which I analyze the festival as a liminal period of communal collective and individual growth. In the third chapter I discuss my own choreographic methods and rehearsal processes, and try to invoke the feeling of the made dances through detailed descriptions. To tie these three sites of research together, I frame the analyses in terms of anthropological and philosophical theories of ekstasis, liminality, and communitas. Ultimately, this thesis examines the relationship between theory and practice in dance.