The Embodied Dance Project : Body Stories

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

Maxine Steinman

Committee Member

Diann Sichel

Committee Member

Martha Eddy


“The secrets of the body will reveal themselves to you, but you have to want to know.” -A.P.

For my thesis project, I focused on Embodied Dance, a somatic approach that utilizes movement to connect the body, mind and emotions in support of dance practice, training, and performance. The goal for this thesis was to assist dancers and participants in exploring self-discovery, empowerment and transformation through an experiential creative and choreographic process (my own and theirs). Embodied Dance practices provide support in the examination of restricted movement, tension patterns, personal stories, or limiting beliefs/self doubt in order to allow the practice of dance training to support wholeness and healing (both during the rehearsal process and performance). This thesis production and supporting paper are an exploration into how we can interact with the deeper layers of self through dance and performance by applying somatic and healing concepts that allow for empathetic connection between audience and performer, creating opportunities for connection, integration and empowerment.

My inspiration for this project revolves around my twenty years of study and practice in body language, energy medicine, coaching, psychology and indigenous forms of healing.

The title Body Stories was chosen to speak of the unconscious, unspoken thoughts we hold in our bodies as memories, as tension, as unexpressed parts of ourselves that have a story to tell. The process followed six individuals who chose to explore a common topic of ‘redefining relationships’ through the vernacular of modern dance vocabulary. Over the course of a twelve-week period, each dancer’s story was thoughtfully tracked and detailed through journal entries and video. The rehearsal process is notated under the section titled “Creative Somatic Investigations” in the Appendix of this paper. In sharing the progression and details of each participant’s ‘body story,’ I aimed to support a perspective of dance training and performance that conveyed healing and personal alignment and growth. This thesis is an inquiry into the choreographic process as a tool to fulfill a journey of healing through movement. This work is also intended to support a sense of empowerment for the participants as they ‘take charge’ of their internal states in relating it to how they move as a dancers and as people the world.


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


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