Research in Dance and Physical Education

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Research in Dance and Physical Education - Vol. 4, No. 3

[ Article ]
Research in Dance and Physical Education - Vol. 4, No. 3, pp.19-31
ISSN: 2586-1034 (Online)
Print publication date 31 Dec 2020
Received 30 Oct 2020 Revised 13 Dec 2020 Accepted 13 Dec 2020

Awareness Through Movement® as Critical Pedagogy in Ballet
Rainy Demerson*
The University of the West Indies Cave Hill, Barbados, U.S.A. Lecturer

Correspondence to : *Email address:


Feldenkrais methods emphasize individualization, freedom, and ease. Ballet methods emphasize perfection and hierarchy, and this can lead to injuries. This paper asks how Awareness Through Movement (ATM) and ballet - two practices that seem to have disparate philosophies and goals - could ever align, given the long history of authoritarian pedagogy inculcated in ballet. By cross referencing my experiences as a ballet and ATM student, interviews with teachers who combine these techniques, and documented research, I argue that ballet pedagogy can be reconstructed with an emancipatory approach using ATM to help disrupt institutionalized practices of body shaming, racism, and elitism. I interview teachers who engage both modalities within one class to imagine what a professional ballet community could look like with critical pedagogy and somatic practice at its core. I propose Awareness Through Movement as a vehicle for reconstructing our understandings of the interplay between race, class, and gender issues in ballet, restructuring thoughts and practices not through dialectic, but through the body itself.

Keywords: Awareness Through Movement, Ballet, Critical Pedagogy, Dance, Diversity

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