Embodied ways of knowing: women’s solo contemporary dance in Aotearoa, New Zealand
Barbour, K. (2002). Embodied ways of knowing: women’s solo contemporary dance in Aotearoa, New Zealand (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13998
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13998
Feminists have offered critiques of dominant dualist Western ‘knowledge’ and epistemology, arguing that such knowledge is oppressive to women. Acceptance of reasoning as the only way to ‘knowledge’, ‘somatophobic’ privileging of mind and exclusion of body, and the stereotypical and oppressive construction of women/femininity are particularly problematic aspects for feminists. Consequently, feminists have deconstructed Western ‘knowledge’ and developed multiple, alternative ‘knowledges’. Feminist research is able to offer alternative ways of knowing, understandings of embodiment and recreations of femininity. Developing the work of feminists Mary Belenky et al. (1986), Iris Young (1989, 1998) and Maxine Sheets-Johnstone (1999), I offer an alternative epistemological strategy – an embodied way of knowing. Alternative ways of knowing that may contribute to new knowledges arise in the lived experiences of individual women, within specific contexts and communities. This feminist research project explores individual women’s lived experiences, particularly focussing on embodied ways of knowing, and recreation of femininity, within the context of solo contemporary dance. Much feminist research in contemporary dance has focussed on deconstructing dance and dancing bodies as ‘texts’, rather than investigating the dance maker’s lived experience. Therefore, my feminist research offers an alternative perspective on women’s solo contemporary dance. My feminist and phenomenological perspective provides a methodology for investigating the lived experiences of individual women, using the specific methods of dance making, creative journalling and interviewing. In this research I undertook solo dance making myself, reflecting on my lived experiences and embodied ways of knowing through creative journalling. I also interviewed five women contemporary dancers about their solo dance work, and discussed the influence of feminism and stereotypical femininity on their dance making. We found that solo dance making was an opportunity for recreating femininity, and we developed understandings of our dance making as embodied ways of knowing. I represent and discuss my findings through a personal experience narrative and interactive CD-Rom of my solo dance, and a group narrative about our solo dance making. My research thus offers an understanding of women’s solo contemporary dance making as an embodied way of knowing - an alternative feminist epistemological strategy.
The University of Waikato
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