Emerging Scholarship: Choreographed Stories: The Necessary Entanglement of Creative Writing and Dance Research by Anne Wharton

Tuesday April 27, 2021 @ 4:00 pm CST

Anne Wharton
Movement Director for the Vernacular Music Center
Ph.D. Candidate, Texas Tech University

Keywords: Creative Writing, Cultural Ecologies, Interdisciplinary, Anthropology

This paper challenges dance artists/scholars to embrace the discipline of creative writing for a more holistic, impactful approach to dance research. Expanding the accessibility and impact of dance research, creative writing processes create opportunities to imagine more thoughtful relationships within ecologies, environmental relationships and cultural relationships. To suggest the possibility of practice-based research exploring environmental relationships, this paper examines the model of creative writing in dialogue with cultural ecologies.

This interdisciplinary methodology addresses the gap in dance research between expectations of dance scholarship and the innovations of practice-based research. I argue that dance can be reimagined as an accessible narrative ethically exploring cultural ecologies. This approach relies upon published work from anthropology, a discipline already instigating experimental writing practices as research, and hypothesizes new territory for dance research that mirrors the recent emergence of creative writing in practice-based research.

Insights from the analysis of Lucy Cash’s Field Notes from a Choreographic Practice provides evidence for the immediacy and efficacy of creative writing in dance research. Additionally, two brief vignettes drawn from a creative writing issue of the Irish Journal of Anthology are enlisted to help imagine how this expansion of dance research could service a more inclusive and truthful representation of danced communities. Ellen Willis and Carolina Nvé Díaz’ laconic essays speak directly to the enrollment of fiction in scholarship for a more ethical depiction of cultural ecologies. These creative writing examples in these disciplines demonstrate the potential for reexamining the role of journaling in dance making, repositioning experiential analysis in dance scholarship, and reconstructing modalities of written representations of dance to expand the purvey of dance research.

Articulating the creative connections between movement and writing, this paper reimagines possibilities for researching cultural ecologies by embracing experiential knowledge production for holistic and ethical representations of dance, whether the choreography plays out in the body or on the page. My question for attendees is how this approach impacts their work and how it expands or complements products like memoirs, journals, and documentaries. How can my research expand to implicate teaching and performance practices?

Anne Wharton

Currently pursuing her PhD in Interdisciplinary Fine Arts at Texas Tech University, Anne Wharton serves as the Movement Director for the Vernacular Music Center as well as a TA in both Music and Dance. Wharton created and teaches Dance Practices for Musicians, which focuses on somatic awareness, wellbeing and improvisational tools. Her research interests include arts practice research, such as creative writing, applied to ethnochoreology, the Bal Folk revival of traditional music and dancing in France, contemporary dance in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, and the physical and emotional benefits to communities participating in vernacular music and dance. Wharton holds an Associates of Arts in Dance from Austin Community College, a BFA in Dance from Texas State University, and a MM in Musicology from Texas Tech University.

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