Be Apart or Be A Part : An Exploration of the Circle Dance Form as a Means for Human Connection and Healing

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

Christian von Howard

Committee Member

Laurie Abramson

Committee Member

Lauren Grant


When human beings dance side by side in unison, participants often experience a sense of community, connection, and healing. Specifically, the circle dance form crosses cultures, extends beyond generations, and brings unity to a community by eliminating the need for social hierarchies. Circle dances occur to mark special occasions and are a valued element in most dance forms. Participants who are unfamiliar with dance can feel a part of the group because of the simple movement patterns and structures that make the circle dance accessible for all. This thesis utilizes the circle dance form as a tool to foster greater confidence in untrained dancers, to generate new movements reflective of shared humanity, and to explore the healing and connection that is offered through the physical act of joining in a circle.


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


White, Stephanie_Redacted.pdf (808 kB)
PDF file of written thesis

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