What Do You See When You Look At Me? : An Exploration of Identity, Personal Stories, Perceptions of Others and Looking Beyond the Surface

Date of Award


Document Type

MSU-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


College of the Arts


Theatre and Dance

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Stefanie Batten Bland

Committee Member

Lauren Grant

Committee Member

Kyle deCamp


What Do You See When You Look At Me? is an inclusive dance theatre experience that weaves together storytelling and personal expression through movement and text, while also addressing implicit bias. As a dance professional and educator who has worked with various ages and abilities in different settings, I have seen how movement can bring people from all walks of life together. In this written thesis, I share portions of my interviews with individuals who identify within various communities (queer, disabled, elderly, survivor, biracial, LatinX, and African American to name a few) as well as foundational research on disability, gender, age, and storytelling within the scope of dance. I lay out the creative processes and impact of bringing an inclusive and accessible performance to the public, and I reflect on the process and culminating performance event. What Do You See When You Look At Me? challenges the notions of who gets to perform, removes the elitism in the field, and opens the doors for others to share their stories.


The performance video is restricted to the Montclair State University community but the PDF file of the thesis, which is located at the bottom of the screen, is available to anyone interested in reading it.

File Format


Friedman-Kats, Lara_Redacted.pdf (3060 kB)
PDF file of written thesis

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