UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Dancing on the inside : identification and dance appreciation Fenrick, Eden Kaill


This thesis examines the role of identification in dance appreciation and in understanding dance as dance. What is common to all dance is that its appreciation requires that what the audience attends to is live human beings performing movement (or significantly being still). It is the physical act of dancing which is the art, and to understand the physical act is to understand the art. The act is performed by dancers, and therefore to understand the act of dancing is to understand those dancers as dancers performing a particular piece of art. For the audience to identify with the dancers is for them to imagine having the characteristics of the dancers that are relevant to dancing that piece. This identification is required for understanding that piece of art. Only an audience of people who identify with the dancers can understand the meaning of the piece, and in addition to their understanding of particular instances of dance, they are more appreciative of dance in general. Moreover, an audience member who identifies with the dancers in a piece gets to be involved in a personal way in the creative act of dancing. They imagine that they feel, with the dancers, what it is like to dance, and to express whatever is being expressed. Through identification, the audience can at least have a taste of the self-transformation of being a dancer, and through that taste gain more than an understanding of a particular dance piece. They can gain the possibility of knowing the joy of dancing for themselves.

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