Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MFA in Dance

First Advisor

Peggy Gould


This research considers dance as the aesthetic expression of the immediacy of the lived body. Dualism, or the divided body and soul, is examined as a severing of our primordial orientation in the world. Perspectives in phenomenology and existentialism depict the fallacy of dualism, and aim to overcome the hazards of objectification, predetermination, and literalization. This negation illuminates the possibility of the unbounded subjective sphere, and argues for a vibrant permeability of the conscious body, phenomena, and aesthetic intent. Engaging the work of phenomenologists Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, I aim to express phenomenology’s vast potential for artistic deepening and flourishing. Building upon the work of dance scholars Sondra Horton Fraleigh and Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, phenomenology is framed as uniquely relevant to dance as embodied aesthetic meaning. Existentialism, namely Sartrean philosophy as a framework tethered to phenomenology, is acknowledged as a rich utility to those involved in artistic practices. The existential contention with freedom as the means to individuation and authenticity is rendered remarkably compatible with the artistic process. Conversing with the writing of Tom Cheetham, aesthetic expression aiming to ground subjective truth is characterized as a transcendent “leap” from the known to the unknown, and rests on the enactment of imagination through metaphor as an alchemical agent.