Body Image, Ballet Pedagogy, & Flow/Yu: Pedagogical Recommendations to Mitigate Self-Objectification & Choreographic Processes to Move Towards Embodied States of Flow & Yu
Objectification theory, as delineated by Barbara L. Fredrickson and Tomi-Ann Roberts, posits that women are trained to view themselves as visual objects for consumption. The related term, self-objectification, describes the altered psychological state where an individual begins to view themselves as a body or sum of body parts. Ballet dancers exhibit higher levels of self-objectification and eating disorders than the general public and high levels of self-objectification are correlated to eating and body image disturbances. This thesis gathers, applies, and expands pedagogical tools for discouraging self-objectification in the ballet classroom in university, private studio, and open online settings. It also proposes the facilitation of flow states as the “next frontier” of addressing one of ballet’s infamous problems and details a choreographic process dedicated to understanding and cultivating amenable conditions for flow and yu. Flow is an embodied experience where an individual is performing at optimum level while fully engaged in an activity. The related concept, yu, is associated with the spiritual release and ease that comes after an individual has disciplined their habits toward living an ethical life. The final choreographic work investigates various aspects of flow and yu including intention, curiosity, bliss, distraction, collective engagement, joy, space, and suspension of time. The resulting performance reflects the individual and collective experience of flow and yu of the dancers who performed the piece. The thesis concludes with a reflection on insights that can be gleaned from intersecting paths of pedagogical research and choreographic inquiry.
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