Womens’ Bodies, Womens’ Stories : A Multi-Media Reflection on Fertility and Childbearing

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

Kyle deCamp

Committee Member

Lauren Grant


Dance has the power to express emotion and facilitate understanding in a way that is unlike any other art form. With embodied knowledge and raw physicality, dance has great potential to be a powerful tool for activism. It is with this core belief that I choreograph pieces and dance films for my company, Awaken Dance Theater. These beliefs also influence my teaching, in pushing for a culturally relevant curriculum. Through choreography and film, this thesis project explores a topic which is historically underrepresented in art : womens’ experiences surrounding fertility and childbearing.

Such choices and issues surrounding childbearing are hugely impactful on women’s lives. Infertility, abortion, pregnancy loss, childless by choice, and even healthy pregnancies are often stigmatized and shunned by society at large, and portrayed insensitively and inaccurately by the typically male-dominated media. In my thesis, I aim to bring womens’ own voices to light. With each of five female dancers exemplifying one of the aforementioned issues, I explore gestures based on research and marry those findings with personal experience through movement and media.

The performative portion of my thesis includes a personal film in response to my experience with miscarriage as well as a choreographed work with five female dancers from Awaken Dance Theater. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, my live performance was unfortunately cancelled. In its stead, I made a short film using rehearsal footage leading up to our performance, edited the footage to show the trajectory of the work, and then invited feedback from dancers and viewers.


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


Nodhturft, Rebekka_Redacted.pdf (570 kB)
PDF file of thesis

This resource is available only to the Montclair State University community. Please log in with your NetID.