Put Your Mother on the Ceiling: Feminist dance-making as a worldmaking process of three women choreographers

Grover-Haskin, Kim
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Richard de Mille (1967) considers personal invention crucial in comprehending and shaping socially constructed realities. Intrigued by what a woman's reality brings to the creative process and how these experiences become movement and embody meaning, I imagined what the reality of choreographing a dance entitled “Put Your Mother on the Ceiling” would unveil. Dance making provided the opportunity to study a woman's lived reality. The purpose of this study was to investigate what a feminist perspective contributed to dance making as a social construction of reality and, subsequently, the development of theory.

Through the metaphor of worldmaking, premised on Nelson Goodman's (1978) idea of worlds and worldmaking originally applied to art criticism, dance making as a worldmaking endeavor illuminated the diversity of a woman's dance-making process and what that process revealed. Qualitative research methodology and a worldmaking taxonomy of three components, the ‘world-in-the-making,’ the ‘world-in-view,’ and ‘performing the world,’ provided for an in-depth investigation into three distinct dimensions related to the dance making process. The ‘world-in-the-making’ revealed the artist's creative process and how each woman perceived and created her work. The ‘world-in-view’ unveiled the dimensions of how the body, as a resource for worldmaking, shaped identity and influenced artistic invention. ‘Performing the world’ focused upon the performing experience revealing self, process, and transcendence.

A series of in-depth interviews with three selected women revealed a woman choreographer's world and work socially influenced and shaped by the world at large. A reverence for uncertainty, mobility in resistance, and a complexity of consciousness emerged as elements for the development of theory. Continually re-entering the dance making process the artist seeks complexity, transcending what is expected to construct, experience, and implement the possible, thus evolving for the future.

In their dance making, women are models of evolutionary praxis. Their created worlds of possibility and change speak a woman-centered agency, activism, voice, and autonomy. Women's “voices” continually refine and redefine dance making as a feminist artistic practice with future visionary application for critical pedagogy and curriculum development. As a consequence, women worldmakers, making a difference in the classroom and curriculum, become educational strategists for the future.

Communication and the arts, Social sciences, Dance-making, Feminist, Women choreographers, World-making