Arts in Action: A Study of the Intersectionality between Dance, Identity and Social Activism

By: Erika Martin

Advising Faculty: Rosemarie Roberts

This project considers the intersection of dance and social activism as it pertains to my own life and the work of choreographers before me who similarly engaged their sociopolitical times and spaces. Through examination of both my choreographic and activist lineage, I identify a foundation for my piece that reflects issues of racism, religious exclusion and identity formation that have been themes throughout my own life. This project’s associated performance seeks to make visible marginalized narratives, and model an accessible environment that inspires audience discourse. Additionally, I argue dance has a powerful position within the social justice community in order to identify space for work like mine in the 21st century. Even though I choreograph in a contemporary context, analysis of the ways in which my artistic predecessors defined themselves and engaged with similar themes, as well as literal movement from social justice protests will inform my process.

The specific sections of this thesis seek to frame dance and social justice through the various lenses that have informed my scholarly and cultural identity. The first half focuses on my choreographic and activist lineage and seeks to find common ground between these two disparate components of my identity. Chapter 1 explores a lineage of artists who engaged in social activism and their relationship to Modern Dance.

In chapter 2, I discuss my ethnic Mennonite heritage that simultaneously restricted dance and cultivated my commitment to social justice. In the final two chapters, I discuss the process I underwent to create my own work in the current sociopolitical climate and the steps I took to curate the performance.

View this senior capstone project at Digital Commons @ Connecticut College.

Related Fields: Dance