Constructing Meaning in Movement Through its Relationship to Music : A Choreomusical Response to the Sarabande

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

Elizabeth McPherson

Committee Member

Neil Baldwin

Committee Member

Christian von Howard


A long-time performer with the Mark Morris Dance Group, I have received praise for the musicality inherent in my dancing. This refined musicality developed over decades of working with Morris—an artist known for his choreomusicality. Drawing from the pedagogic techniques Morris uses to train his dancers, I also employ a musical approach when teaching dance technique classes and have distilled these principles of musicality in a journal article written for dance educators. In this MFA thesis project, I now apply the musical principles utilized in my performance and pedagogic techniques toward a choreographic endeavor.

The dance and musical form, sarabande, serves as a vehicle for this choreographic process. In one regard, I tend to the concepts of beat, tempo, meter, accent, duration, articulation, rhythm, and phrasing during movement invention to supply my dance with intrinsic drama. Intermixed with this rhythmically rooted methodology is an influence from knowledge developed through academic research about the sarabande’s origins, migration, and transformation through time and locale. The final choreographic product invites a conversation among historical, musicological, and compositional elements and aims to shed light on this multilayered musical form while providing meaning and delight beyond the pure facts of music and movement.


The performance video is restricted to the Montclair State University community but the PDF file of the thesis, the performance program and the post performance conversation video are open access material.

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