Date of Award

2016

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Thesis

Department

Dance

First Advisor

Derek Reid

Abstract

The arts are transforming the field of grassroots peacebuilding and conflict resolution, yet dance is often underutilized in comparison to the other arts. However, this thesis argues that two core components of dance – choreography and outreach dance education – are not only viable tools for peacebuilding, but by their nature, more adept at dealing with the relational and psychological components of conflict often left untouched by the other arts and traditional conflict resolution. This is due to dance’s focus on the body, and its relation to others in space, which is intrinsic to the building and healing of relationships. Dance also requires no coherent spoken language or accessory tool to be accomplished, and is already present in the traditions and rituals of most cultures. Looking towards examples from the Arab-Israeli conflict, the author explores the way dance choreography is employed to raise awareness of, change perception of, and build understanding in conflict, and then how grassroots encounter programs use dance to move beyond conflict examination, to initiate efforts towards peacebuilding. The research is based on studies throughout a semester abroad in Israel. Specifically, drawing on involvement in a two-week residency conducted by the dance outreach organization, “Minds in Motion”, and their encounter work between Jewish and Arab communities in central Israel. It also reflects on a personal choreographic process addressing the Arab-Israeli conflict; investigating how dance can be used to create an open space where a variety of narratives can be explored, universal themes relating to conflict and resolution can be understood, and perceptions can be transformed.

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