Somatic Awareness and Meaning-Making in Choreography

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

Kathleen Kelley

Committee Member

Julia Burrer

Committee Member

Kim Whittam


In my creative research culminating in my MFA thesis work, XX, I argue that meaning in dance choreography is made and perceived as a result of the somatic attention of the choreographer and the embodiment of the performer. I examine how my extensive training in the Gaga Movement Language informs my movement and choreographic practice, and how its focus on bodily sensation contributes to meaning-making. I explore the connections between sensation and phenomenology, empathy and qualitative dynamics, and the pull between abstraction and representation in dance work. I argue that because cognition is based on our interaction with the world through our physical forms, our bodies are vital for communication and understanding, translating ideas, and responsible for our affective responses to aesthetic experiences.


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


Schnurr, Candice_Redacted.pdf (211 kB)
PDF file of thesis

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