Description of Our Project:
Title of the Project:
Toward Innovative & Transdisciplanary Methodologies: Re-Analyzing & Re-Presenting Social Science Data through Dance
The proposal was initially submitted to the 2011 Creative Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Competition, VP Office of Research. We subsequently submitted proposals in 2012 and 2013.
Purpose of the Project:
The objective of this project is to make public, by re-analyzing and re-presenting social science data through live dance performance, traditionally privatized negotiations of women’s ideologies and experiences of singlehood, marriage, and motherhood. The performance draws on two separate qualitative data sets – one study focused on newly married women transitioning to be wives and the other focused on women choosing to be single and/or childfree. (For more information about the datasets, see the informational sheets featuring the datasets.) Our project emphasizes bodily knowledge and lived experience as lenses through which to view, interpret, and re-present data, and identifies new analytical possibilities with a view to developing an emergent methodological tool emphasizing the use of rejection as an analytical framework. The initial primary objectives were:
Use a transdisciplinary approach to discover & uncover processes at work in analyzing data Introduce dialogues & re-presentations about data to audiences external to the academy Produce an evening-length dance concert for public presentation based on social science qualitative datasets
Fall 2011: Awarded funding to work together to produce an evening-length dance concert from social scientists’ two qualitative datasets.
Spring 2012: The lead chorographer examined data sets & began sharing her analysis with the social scientist. Theatre & dance excerpts were created & discussed.
Summer 2012: CO-PI’s presented a portion of the analysis at an international conference
August 2012: Pilot Dance Performance: Data were collected on Audience Responses (N=44)
Fall/Spring 2012: Based on Pilot Data, modifications & additions to the performance
March 2013: Final Dance Performance presented at TTU campus
March 2013: Final Dance Peformance presented at Virginia Tech
March 2013: Elizabeth Sharp and Genevieve Durham-DeCesaro Visiting Scholars/Artists at Virginia Tech
Statements about the collaborative process of representing data through dance:
In the following posters, each Choreographer provides a statement about her work. The Researcher follows with a statement about the work in relationship to data. The Artistic Director and Researcher then offer the joint statements on each dancework as way to provide the audience a glimpse into some of the challenges we have encountered and how we have worked (or are still working) to resolve them.
Pilot Performance (August 2012) Audience Feedback:
In August 2012, we had a pilot performance that included four of the dances in tonight’s concert (I was Happy in the Pictures, A Thin Line, Dressed Part 1, With Doubt) and an extended dialogue about marriage at the beginning of the concert. Using a survey, we collected data about the dances and the concert as a whole from 44 audience members. We asked audience members to share their interpretations and impressions of the marriage dialogue and dances, as well as what they liked and didn’t like about the performance.
Based on audience feedback, we made major modifications to the concert including:
Making single women more visible: Many audience members interpreted the entire dance concert as focused on marriage and assumed all the dancers were married. A few audience members explicitly mentioned how they felt single women were invisible in the concert.
Eliminating the lengthy marriage dialogue at the beginning of the concert: Audience members thought it was too long and we (GDD &EAS) believed that the text set the tone for the entire concert and inadvertedly guided the audience to interpret all of the dances with a marriage frame.
Avoiding any suggestion of satirizing the data in the dialogues: Audience members had indicated that the marriage dialogue made the women seem silly and immature
Adding another dance from the single women dataset: This resulted in the creation of To Find my Voice.
Adding theatrical piece featuring single women: This resulted in the creation of Brave.
Adding text from the singlehood data: We added significant portions of text from this dataset throughout the concert.
After analyzing audience feedback, the researcher became more comfortable with and pushed for abstract dances. The abstract dances allowed the audience to engage with the dance in a wider variety of ways, encouraging more freedom to interpret ways that were meaningful for them.
Genevieve Durham DeCesaro
Flatlands Dance Theatre is a professional dance company founded in 2010 and based in Lubbock, Texas. The company is comprised of 14 dancers, 7 choreographers, and 5 apprentices. FDT produces full seasons of formal dance concerts, community engagement activities and classes, and also participates in national touring events.
Mission: Flatlands Dance Theatre produces and promotes innovative and diverse dance and provides educational and engagement initiatives to community members in West Texas through a collective of working artists.
Vision: Flatlands Dance Theatre seeks to enrich the West Texas cultural community by producing innovative and diverse dance works performed by professional artists.
Artistic Director, Ali Duffy
Executive Director, Kyla Olson
Production Manager, Joshua Whitt
Community Engagement Coordinator, Sarah Mondle
Board of Directors
Valerie Komkov Hill
Evan Sanford, Board President