Independent dancers and the choreographic process: a study into the working conditions of the 21st century dancer
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AbstractThe UK independent dance sector is generating increasing interest from within the academic community, with a discourse emerging that is concerned with the work of those working in self-employed capacities as dancers. This role often involves varied responsibilities spanning performance, choreographic, teaching and project management work, and generally means dancers working on a project basis, as opposed to being employed by a single organisation or company. The aim of this research is to better understand the working conditions of the independent sector and how dancers operate to navigate themselves within it. It focuses on how dancers use their roles as performers within different choreographic projects to support this activity, in order to feed and sustain their careers. To examine this area, I draw upon existing research and literature about the independent dance communities, in addition to writing in the fields of sociology, economics, philosophy and dance science to anchor the study, and contextualise the conditions of independent dancers’ work. An in-depth autoethnographic study was undertaken, in which I worked with three professional dancers on two choreographic projects to experience and observe their practice. The findings were furthered during interviews with a separate group of independent dancers who were questioned about their careers in the sector. Together, they provide first-hand accounts of the work that independent dancers do, interpreted through my constructivist perspective as a dancer and academic. 4 The findings provide new evidence of working conditions in the contemporary dance sector, from the dancers’ perspective. From this, a model is distilled that articulates how the dancers in this study engaged with five key areas of practice to support their roles within different chorographic projects and navigate their world of work: Adaptation, Relationships, Continued learning, Identity and Exchange. In providing new insights into independent dancers’ work, this study forges a new direction for how their roles can be understood and valued within the wider contemporary sector.
CitationFarrer, R. (2019) 'Independent dancers and the choreographic process: a study into the working conditions of the 21st century dancer'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of doctor of Philosophy.
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