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Weight Shifting; An Ethnography of Contact Improvisation


Weight Shifting; An Ethnography of Contact Improvisation

Baird, Haley (2021) Weight Shifting; An Ethnography of Contact Improvisation. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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This thesis reflects on ethnographic research of the improvised dance form, contact improvisation. This research addresses the ways in which dancers of contact improvisation navigate the bourgeoning conversation around consent in the context of their practice. In the past several years, consent has become an increasingly pressing concern in the form, and has resulted in the fashioning of guidelines, workshops, and demonstrations meant to address the practice of consent. Based on participant observation and interviews across the San Francisco Bay Area of California (US), Montreal, Quebec (CAN), and various online platforms, this ethnographic study explores some salient questions which dancers seek to address in the context of their dance practice. Contact improvisation historically reflects a strong attachment to ideals of egalitarianism and non-codification. It has frequently been addressed as a practice in which dancers experiment with a certain ‘blurring’ between bodies, states of disorientation, and an improvisational ethos of unpredictability. Thus, it is a particularly challenging and potentially creative venue for thinking about the politics of consent. This thesis does not attempt to give an exhaustive reading of the situation, nor to prescribe a way forward. Rather, this research focuses on several key tensions between contact improvisation and consent. Among them, this work addresses how the relationship of contact improvisation to constraints and to “flow” might need to be rethought in the context of making the practice more consensual.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Sociology and Anthropology
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Baird, Haley
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Social and Cultural Anthropology
Date:3 March 2021
Thesis Supervisor(s):Howes, David
ID Code:988109
Deposited By: Haley Baird
Deposited On:29 Jun 2021 23:05
Last Modified:03 Apr 2023 00:00
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