Stock, L. (2021). Curious Choreography: Interpersonal And Structural Practices Of Universal Design In Theatrical And Social Performance. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2477
Despite the physical isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, urban societies thrive off of a form of contact improvisation: the act of brushing against someone rushing to a meeting, sitting next to a stranger on a train, or shifting out of another’s way. It is a never-ending sequence of physical adjustments aiming to keep people in the flow of pedestrian life. In examining this social choreography, this thesis engages with theater and sociology along with the fields of urban studies, performance studies, disabilities studies, and dance. Through these lenses, this thesis argues that any artistic or pedestrian movement that happens in relation to other people is a set of learned behaviors performed as spontaneous responses to external stimuli in which the movement is navigated through interpersonal non-verbal communication. Utilizing my production of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' as embodied research woven throughout each chapter, this thesis begins by investigating the roles of the Viewpoints approach, contact improvisation, and kinetic conversations within theatrical spaces. It then reframes those same principles to explore the understandings of proxemics, interpersonal spacing, and crowds in urban spaces. Ultimately, this thesis draws from performance studies and Universal Design to interrogate the line between artistic and pedestrian performance. This thesis also includes a portfolio outlining the practical work of developing an accessible experience for my production of 'The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time' shared as a resource for those looking to make theater that challenges and dismantles barriers to access.