‘Becoming’ through dance : assemblages of young girls’ dance practice in special character high schools. (2019)
Type of ContentElectronic Thesis or Dissertation
Degree NameMaster of Arts
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsBoyle, Harrietshow all
This thesis explores the experiences of dance students in two specialised high schools in Christchurch, New Zealand. North and Chorus High School (pseudonyms), were established under special character legislation allowing them to focus on student directed learning. Students, with the guidance of parents and learning advisors, construct their own curriculums based on their interests. North High School offers a dance class as one of the available subjects and in which students choose the genre of dance studied. Chorus developed from North to provide students wanting to become professional ballet dancers with a more intensive ballet orientated curriculum by partnering with an external dance school. The Chorus students do a minimum of 20 hours dance training per week with their schoolwork negotiated around their dance commitments. Utilizing examples from focus group discussions and workshops with eight 11 to 17-year-old high school dance students at the two schools, I discuss how these participants ‘become’ dancers as an effect of different dance-based assemblages. This ‘becoming’ is explored through Deleuzo-Guattarian theorising of the assemblage and molar and molecular flows along with Foucault’s theorising of discourse and subjectivity. Rebecca Coleman argues, informed by Deleuzian and feminist theory, that girls’ engagement with images produces knowledges, understandings and experiences of bodies through an entangled process of becoming. This research informs my exploration of the ways the North and Chorus participants use images in their dance practices. This includes drawn representations of their choreography styles, audio-visual images of their performances, mirror reflections in the dance studio and photographic images of professional ballerinas. There is a growing area of research investigating the negotiations of young girls in relation to appearance, class, neoliberal selfhood, gender and sexualities. This research contributes to and extends these dialogues by considering how assemblages of images, professional dancers’ narratives, education contexts, classed connotations of dance genres and the dance students produce both limitations and possibilities in the becoming of dancers.