Embedded Memories & Community Imprints : The Scars that Live Within Us

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

Lauren Grant

Committee Member

Claire Porter


How can we change the perspective of our scars from a symbol of trauma to a symbol of healing? Society teaches us that we should hide our scars and conceal their stories but a scar’s visible imprint, or hidden emotional memory, can forever change the way a person sees themselves. Embedded Memories & Community Imprints: The Scars that Live Within Us demonstrates that by choosing to share the stories of our wounds with others through collaborative movement experiences, we can find individual and community healing. People can associate new memories with their “scar story” and develop an alternate aesthetic appreciation for it. This two-pronged project utilizes personal histories as an entry to self-reflection, creativity, empathy, memory, and ultimately, healing.

Part 1, Embedded Memories, is a sensory-rich installation illuminated by silk lanterns and lighting pieces worn by the dancers. The creative process of the work began as an investigation of my own scar from ACL reconstructive surgery and continued through an investigation of healing through Japanese philosophies of three specific modalities: Kintsugi, Reiki, and Butoh. Embedded Memories is an amalgamation of this research and the contributions of community members who participate in Part 2, Community Imprints, a tandem creative residency which uses conversation, reflection, and collaborative art making to spark meaningful connections between people. By engaging with our personal histories or “scar stories,” performers, participants, and audience members will have a transformative experience creating new perspectives while acknowledging these experiences as valuable and meaningful parts of us.


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


Ballaro, Marisa_Redacted.pdf (1818 kB)
written thesis

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