• A Conversation With Dance History: Movement and Meaning in the Cultural Body

      Welsh-Asante, Kariamu; Gordon, Lewis R. (Lewis Ricardo), 1962-; Meglin, Joellen A.; Weightman, Lindsay (Temple University. Libraries, 2008)
      This study regards the problem of a binary in dance discursive practices, seen in how "world dance" is separated from European concert dance. A close look at 1930s Kenya Luo women's dance in the context of "dance history" raises questions about which dances matter, who counts as a dancer, and how dance is defined. When discursive practices are considered in light of multicultural demographic trends and globalisation the problem points toward a crisis of reason in western discourse about how historical origins and "the body" have been theorised. Within a western philosophical tradition the body and experience are negated as a basis for theorising. Historical models and theories about race and gender often relate binary thinking whereby the body is theorised as text. An alternative theoretical model is established wherein dancers' processes of embodying historical meaning provide one of five bases through which to theorise. The central research questions this study poses and attempts to answer are: how can I illuminate a view of dance that is transhistorical and transnational? How can I write about 1930s Luo women in a way that does not create a case study to exist outside of dance history? Research methods challenge historical materialist frameworks for discussions of the body and suggest insight can be gained into how historical narratives operate with coercive power--both in past and present--by examining how meaning is conceptualised and experienced. The problem is situated inside a hermeneutic circle that connects past and present discourses, so tensions are explored between a binary model of past/present and new ways of thinking about dance and history through embodiment. Archives, elder interviews, and oral histories are a means to approach 1930s Luo Kenya. A choreography model is another method of inquiry where meanings about history and dance that subvert categories and binary assumptions are understood and experienced by dancers through somatic processes. A reflective narrative provides the means to untangle influences of disciplines like dance and history on the phenomenon of personal understanding.