Costume as Somatic Tool in Dance Education: A Provocation

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In this article Smith reflects on the absence of costume in dance education (Monk 2013) and examines the somatic nature of costume through the analysis of her costume-based performance works and pedagogy. Smith evidences the haptic nature of costume and its impact on the performing body, discussing the comparison of costume and Somatic Dance Practice principles. Smith concludes her research with a new definition of the somatic nature of costume and recommendation of costume as a tool to support the teaching of somatic practice in dance education. This research investigates connections between the current fields of Somatic Dance Practice and Costume, evidenced through the theories of embodiment and the haptic (Dean 2015; Driscoll 2011; Fraleigh 1987; Hann 2012; Machon 2013), Dr Karen Barbour’s core somatic dance values (2016), Dean’s Somatic Costumes™ (2014; 2016) and the works of other somatic practitioners and theorists (Bainbridge Cohen 2020; Hanna 1988, Masters & Poolton 2016; Wozny 2010). Finally, Dr Hann’s provocation on bodies and costume (2019) is used as a springboard to adapt the International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association’s definition of somatic movement education (cited in Eddy 2009) to explicitly outline the somatic nature of costume, and thus evidence the suitability of costume as a tool in the support of somatic dance practice training. This research contributes to and connects the fields of costume and somatic dance practice and raises valid questions for the field of dance and somatic education. New observations and knowledge of the somatic nature of costume and costume as teaching tool in somatic dance education is disseminated to the relevant communities of practitioners, artists, and scholars. This targeted distribution will increase possibilities of the research outcomes impacting future developments in the wider scope of somatic practice and pedagogy in the performing arts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-265
JournalJournal of Dance and Somatic Practices
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

The Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on the relationship between dance and somatic practices, and the influence of this body of practice on the wider performing arts. The journal is aimed at scholars and artists, providing a space for practitioners and theorists to debate the work, to consider the impact and influence of the work on performance, and examine the interventions that somatic practices can have on other disciplines and the implications for research and teaching.


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