Identity Stories : Cultural Imprints on the Body

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

Christian von Howard

Committee Member

Diann Sichel

Committee Member

Kim Whittam


As a seasoned dance educator I have spent the last decade developing a curriculum that supports student identity development through creative practice. Through my research and practice in the classroom, I have discovered the power of dance education to promote collaboration, creative problem solving, the ability to learn across disciplines, and several other areas of cognitive development. In this MFA thesis project, I continue this work by applying the creative process to investigate the potential for dance film to be used as an educational tool to support critical analysis of social constructs that inhibit identity development, specifically gender identity development. The resulting research investigates the use of dance film as a tool for building empathy, shifting audience perspectives, and creating a resource for critical examination of the effects of gender stereotypes on identity development. By choreographically challenging ideas of conformity and gender performativity as it relates to the gender binary, and framing the investigation under educational theorist Paulo Freire’s structures for social reform, I seek to promote dialogue and social progression to reduce stereotypical threats against gender non-conforming individuals and to educate the larger community about the multiple layers of gender identity.


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


Kamitses, Alexis_Redacted.pdf (1023 kB)
PDF file of thesis

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