Dancing the Fascial Body: A New ‘Line of Flight’?

McKee, J. (2020) Dancing the Fascial Body: A New ‘Line of Flight’? Masters theses, University of Chichester.

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The aim of this study is to explore how an increased knowledge of fascia might be used by the dancer to inform their own dance practice. The focus of study is my own dance practice, therefore writing subjectivities will shift to encapsulate the first-person perspective. Investigations into fascia will be conducted within the context of dance movement theory, drawing on theoretical dance concepts from my own dance history. As a Laban student (1987-1991), Rudolph Laban’s movement theories were formative to my dance training and are firmly embedded in my body chronology. Aspects of this movement history will be re-examined in relation to findings from the literature, with a view to redefining my dance practice and mapping a kinetic future. Research therefore navigates an interface of science and somatics with a view to developing the discourse between dance practice and fascial research.

In recent decades, research into fascia has been evolving quickly, fuelled by advances in dissection and new research technologies enabling more detailed study of fascia in vivo. (Guimberteau, 2016). Key concepts emanating from the literature seem to cast new light on long held anatomical and biomechanical perspectives. These new findings reveal fascia may play a more significant role in human form and function than previously thought. The field of manual and movement therapies have been quick to engage with the literature, investigating and developing these findings in therapeutic practices such as massage therapy. Comparatively, explorations of fascia in movement seem relatively underdeveloped. Some methods focus on fascial fitness (Muller & Schleip, 2015; Schleip, 2017), and utilise fascial principles to improve the functioning of a healthy fascial system. Others (Avison, 2015; Gurtner, 2016), apply fascia principles to other practices (yoga, pilates), yet the establishment of a refined, fully developed approach that is distinctly fascia-focussed appears limited. Within the dance field, exploration of fascia is evident in the work of just a few individual practitioners (Bolt, 2016, Hawksley, 2011). The ability of dance to achieve whole body connectivity is considered to distinguish dance from many other athletic and aesthetic pursuits (Simmel, 2015). This view validates an exploration of fascia in dance, since fascia is observed to play a key role in whole body connection (Avison, 2015; Stecco, 2009; Oschman, 2012). Furthermore, in recent decades, dancers, have been increasingly drawn to somatic movement practices (Bales & Nettl-Fiol, 2008) to inform and refine their dance practice. Demonstrating a will to engage on a deeper level with the dancing body, these dancer preferences highlight a curiosity to explore ways of connecting more deeply with the corporeal, material fabric of the dancing body. In dance practice however, there seems to be little consideration of fascia and the focus is primarily musculoskeletal. A focus on muscles and bones pervades over fascia in dance practice, despite shared characteristics of whole body connectivity, a concept that will be explored later in this study. Developing an understanding of fascia and exploring fascia in practice may therefore be particularly pertinent to the dancer with a view to developing and refining dance practice. Central to this study is my own curiosity to undertake practice-based research that is informed by fascia and to consider the somatic and philosophical implications, aspects that have resonance in dance.

The academic rationale for this study is therefore founded on the basis that fascial research explorations within a dance context seem particularly underdeveloped. In addition, the personal rationale for undertaking this study stems from a wish to return to the body, founded on thirty years as a dance practitioner and twelve years as a soft tissue therapist. In my role as a manual therapist, I have developed a growing curiosity about the role of fascia in manual therapy and the phenomenon that applying pressure to one part of the body can effect change in another (Caspari & Massa, 2012). As a dancer, whilst developing understanding of the internal body-space remained at the forefront of my dance practice, I have observed that in the process of dancing my attention tends to focus on moving in relationship to the external space. This external spatial focus perhaps originates from a dance background including study of Rudolph Laban’s space theory, termed choreutics . The drawing together of increased knowledge and understanding of the internal fascial body architecture and external spatial architecture as defined by Laban therefore underpins this study. One final consideration for utilising fascia as a focus of research in this study, is founded on an increasing sense of detachment from my own dancing body and a wish to reconnect to my body-self. Issues of disconnection have therefore prompted an investigation to explore how my dance practice might be illuminated by fascial research.

The aim of this study is to answer the main research question: how might evolving fields of research into fascial anatomy and architecture inform dance practice, with a particular view to the development of dance movement theory? Four research sub-questions have been considered to examine the main research question and each chapter will address a different question. These sub-questions are:

• What are the key components of fascia as outlined in the literature?
• How might the relationship between body and space be defined for the dancer within the context of dance movement theory?
• How might the subjective experience of the dancer define their dance practice?
• How might a dancer access and embody the qualities of fascia in dance practice?

Publication Type: Theses (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Dance, Movement, Therapy, Anatomy, Space, Somatic, Rudolph Laban, Kinetics, Yoga, Pilates, Body, Dance Practice
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
Divisions: Academic Areas > Department of Dance
Student Research > Masters
Depositing User: Janet Carter
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2023 11:43
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2023 11:43
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/6892

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