The experience of student dancers in higher education in a dance movement therapy group, with reference to choreography and performance
This thesis investigates the experience of a dance movement therapy (DMT) group as part of an undergraduate dance degree in higher education. The primary focus is the students' perceptions of the group and of links with choreography and performance. The research tracks three cohorts of students through an eight-week DOT group experience using a case study methodology. Through a series of semi-structured individual and group interviews and tape-recordings of verbal group process, it uses the students' own reflections as a basis for interpretation. Systematic thematic analysis of texts combines with interpretation in the creation of the findings. Processes of interpretation and category formation are made transparent for the reader. The thesis is founded on a literature review, which refers to a variety of fields of knowledge: DMT, Authentic Movement, arts therapies, psychotherapy and counselling, dance education, creativity, choreography, performance, play and improvisation. The major conclusions are that despite initial difficulties with emotional exploration, students seem to have developed trust in the process as a result of a perceived sense of safety. Other facilitating factors of process are interpreted as play, movement metaphors and affirmation. The variety of experience is acknowledged, and positively perceived experience is compared to negatively perceived experience in terms of perceptions of safety. The positively perceived personal effects of playfulness, self-confidence and relationship are interpreted as having relevance for choreography and performance. Recommendations for further research into the potential relationship between DMT and dance are offered.