Graduation Date


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Fine Arts


Music, Dance and Performing Arts

Director of the Honors Program

Gigi Gokcek, PhD

First Reader

Gay Lynch, PhD

Second Reader

Molly Rogers, MFA


This research will contend with the ever-present endeavor in many models of contemporary dance practices to ‘be yourself’ – to seek out an illusive core of your being, and engage with your essential self. Through a survey of cultural studies and social identity that includes the contributions of Judith Butler, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault, Todd Reeser, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, the idea of an essential self will be challenged, throwing into question the dominant conception of self used in contemporary dance practices. Through a brief review of two historical conceptions of self in dance, that of Isadora Duncan and the post-modern dance movement, the fields of cultural and dance studies will be in dialogue. Our challenge in contemporary dance is to review the way that we are working, as the voices against a notion of an essentialized self speak boldly in the fields of cultural studies. What happens to our practices of ‘finding’ ourself if ultimately there is no singular, stable, true, self to find? As a response, this thesis explores the notion of “becoming self,” building on the work of Kimerer LaMothe and Beau Taplin. My performance piece Sonder and the resulting analysis contribute to the larger dialogue between the fields of cultural and dance studies.

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