The Physical, Mental, and Creative Implications of Dance as a Form of Play: A Comparison of Collegiate Pre-professional and Recreational Dancers

Sarah McNamee and Professor Lauren Kearns, Department of Performing Arts, Elon University, 50 Campus Drive, Elon NC 27244

This study explores the usefulness of a Dance as Play practice in collegiate dancers.  A Dance as Play practice is an improvisation-based dance practice that has mental, physical, and creative implications for collegiate dancers.  The Dance as Play practice was inspired by Blatner’s acting based play practice as detailed in The Art of Play: Helping Adults Reclaim Imagination and Spontaneity.  This comparative study utilized dancers’ discussions and feedback to identify these implications and determine the practice’s usefulness for pre-professional and recreational dancers.  Ten dancers participated in this study; five of them were pre-professional dancers pursuing a BFA in Dance and the other five dance recreationally with at least one hour of structured dance class every other week.  In each group of five, the participants completed three Dance as Play sessions.  The first session established the general principles of the practice, the second session expanded on these principles with the incorporation of character interaction, and the third session involved applying these principles to a given phrase of movement.  The participants completed one pre-session survey before the Dance as Play sessions that evaluated initial stress levels and the causes of this stress.  The participants also completed a post-session survey after each of the Dance as Play sessions and engaged in group discussions after each session.  Through these methods, dancers shared their thoughts about and experiences with the practice.  Recreational dancers discussed the use of this practice as a mechanism to bring comfort and confidence to themselves during improvisation.  Pre-professional dancers discussed the use of this practice in choreography and movement creation. The results of this study illustrated that both groups perceived this practice to enhance or shift intention and purpose within movement creation.  The data also illuminated the potential significance for the field of dance pedagogy, particularly at the university level.

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Sarah McNamee

Institution: Elon University

Type: Poster

Subject: Dance

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 5
Date/Time: Tue 12:30pm-1:30pm
Session Number: 4073