To move and be moved: Interrelationality in/between dancing bodies
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As human beings we constantly navigate environments comprised of other people, animals, and objects. The way that we are in the world, our sense of self as we in move in/with/through our surroundings, is not often talked about or represented through specific language in our everyday lives but affects us on implicit and explicit levels. Interdisciplinary scholarly inquiry from the fields of dance studies, feminist philosophy, phenomenology, and cognitive and social science, attempts to grasp what happens between and amongst our animate selves and our ever-shifting surroundings. However, much of this scholarship happens outside of situated and embodied contexts. This dissertation closely analyzes two adult dance communities in Los Angeles—Oxygen Tango and The Sweat Spot—examining both the cultural aspects of these sites and the first-person felt sensations of participants’ dancing experiences, focusing on accounts of interrelational happenings. A close evaluation of the data reveals two cultures that are built on both pre-conscious and conscious structures of intercorporeity, intersubjectivity, and affect that foster shared kinetic understanding. Utilizing a phenomenology-based ethnographic methodology, this study acquired data through qualitative interviews, participant observation, and cultural artifacts (including social media). Studied in tandem, the findings at these two communities indicate cultures based on a need for dancers to be individually expressive through movement while engaging in collective embodied dance practices. This dissertation argues that in doing so, they create intimacy in and through their bodies. They re-discover a vital kinesthetic way of being that is not always prioritized as we transition to speech, supported by the work of phenomenologist and dancer Maxine Sheets-Johnstone who theorizes the developmental phase after learning to speak as post-kinetic, or a shift away from our tactile-kinesthetic way of being in the world. These communities also foster kinesthetic belonging, or a body-belonging, that transcends the normalized traits of tastes, predilections, and verbal conversations that commonly link us to social involvement, and instead connects dancers through the action of moving together within these cultures. This research situates existing scholarship by placing it within lived/danced contexts and extends it by contributing to the theory, developing innovative possibilities for how we might conceive of dance, an articulate experience of movement, as an intervention that integrates body and theory.