Physical Listening : The Influence of the Black Arts Movement on Free Jazz-Inspired Movement
Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
College of the Arts
Theatre and Dance
Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair
Jazz dance, Black Arts movement
For my thesis project, I created an afternoon of dance inspired by my exploration of “Free-Form Body Motifs” performed to free jazz music within the context of the Black Arts Movement. Through my investigation, I was able to transcribe jazz music into movement motifs , exploring the idea of free and how active listening translates music into body movement. In essence, this project enabled me to learn how to speak the language of the music by reacting to rhythms through isolated body parts. In particular, I focused on specific musical elements to create movement: ostinato (a repeated rhythm) and melodic phrasing (line of the melody). In my research and choreography, the musical ostinato is comparative to a dance motif and melodic phrasing is like physical listening , which is my method of translating music into movement.
My choreographic process, in addition to my research of the Black Arts Movement, led me on a new pathway of creating and expanding modern movement vocabulary. This project taught me that there is nothing random about this type of improvisation; it accentuates intention in the hearing and specificity in the musicality, while elevating a story in the movement with an undeniable intimacy between the dancer and musician.
White, Lauren Putty, "Physical Listening : The Influence of the Black Arts Movement on Free Jazz-Inspired Movement" (2020). Theses, Dissertations and Culminating Projects. 504.
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