This land is your land: Performing philosophy in an American terrain
Salyers, Candice Leigh
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This dissertation brings together a site-adaptive performance practice and text- based research to explore the potential of dance performance to exist as philosophical inquiry. The five research sites (Glacier, Joshua Tree, Acadia, Shiloh, and Sequoia National Parks) provided a range of terrains, while the dance I chose to perform (Significant Figures) remained constant. Through the persistent effort of one movement sequence within these dramatically different landscapes, distinct lessons about the qualities and circumstances of body and land appeared. The same movement inhabiting different environments allows me as a performer to gain a range of understandings, not simply about what the dance means but also about how a dance can teach its performer and become a process of philosophical inquiry. As a journey through both interior and exterior landscapes, this dissertation research considers brain, body, and world as inextricably connected in acts of thinking, following Andy Clark's concept of "extended cognition." In addition, philosopher Brian Massumi's exploration of what he terms "the body as sensible concept" further reveals the role of the body in thinking processes. His concept provides a foundation for my work in this dissertation process, while my work describes an instance of enacting this phenomenon--not for the sake of illustrating his ideas but as a living vibration of some threads of its potential. Through a combination of philosophical and autoethnographic writing in the text of the dissertation, I am seeking to bring abstract considerations into fleshier communion with readers. Taken all together the data chapters of this dissertation outline an evolution in my thinking, growth, and development of self-knowledge and hopefully also demonstrate the potential of performance to exist as a practice of developing consciousness and philosophical understanding. By inviting the reader into my personal discoveries, I hope to develop a level of trust between us for the purpose of creating a doorway into the reader's own discoveries and into a collective, or at least cooperative, movement of thought and thinking of movement.