Docile Bodies: A Study on Women and Docility

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

Perry Guevara, PhD

Second Reader

Molly Rogers, MFA


docile bodies expresses how systems of power enforce docility on women’s bodies. The choreographic work uses the medium of the moving body to present observation as a method of discipline and represent the bodily limitations of feminine gender performativity. Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish informed my manipulation of the audience’s observational role through its theories surrounding effective punishment and the docility-enforcing use of the panopticon. Foucault’s History of Sexuality provided the framework for a confession of strangeness by a dysfunctional body, extracted by the systems of power. His argument that women are relegated to their sex, which results in a hysterization of female bodies, appears in several character roles emerging at the conclusion of my work. Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble offered a definition of gender performativity that manifested itself through a series of repeated gestures, representing the incessant ritual of gender performance. Butler’s Bodies that Matter confirmed the inherent sexing of bodies, and the fear required to enforce such sexing. I explored those concepts by accentuating the relationship between audience and dancers, and choreographing an inevitable transition from wild bodies to intelligibly feminine ones. The work examines my relationship to my dancers as an enforcer of power in a collaborative setting, while also exploring methods of moving beyond current power structures by harnessing discipline to serve embodied wisdom.

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