Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Maggi Phillips


Through time the dancer has been both celebrated and disadvantaged by antithetical ideas: the division of soul and body, form and matter, life and death, artist and audience. For the romantics, the dancing body stood in a relationship to poetic thought in much the same way as the dancer stood to the body. Notions of the body in early modernism arose from cultural and political constructs through which poets and writers examined the nature of truth. These poets, Yeats in particular, hinted at a premise that a whole history of culture may be necessary to explain why women and art may not be considered as 'thinking bodies'. The notion of truth and of the female dancing form became bound up in the idea of the symbol of art, beauty and truth. Contemporary dance forms have evolved in various movements which either celebrated and lauded or rejected and satirised the dancer and the dancing image. Either way, the cultural and political movements of the twentieth century have bequeathed a residue of impressions surrounding bodily image. The current processes employed in today's dance practice, all of which contour the scope and diversity of contemporary dance, are couched in the multifaceted presence of postmodernism. Alongside such constructs is the fact that the twentieth century has been centred in the desire to 'create an image' and a subsequent preoccupation whole bodily image. But there are also many other channels through which the idea and use of image in postmodern dance are expressed. For instance, postmodern artists orchestrate and play with the idea of image to deconstruct forms, to lay bare the object of the dance process and in so doing, they disrupt, fragment and question established precepts and perceptions of culture. Postmodern theorists and artists also examine the literary, cultural and philosophical phenomena of politics, technology, identity and change. An examination of postmodern treatment of imagery can illuminate some of the particular processes by which choreographers explore ideas and incorporate them into their work. Postmodern dance can produce positive images for women and illuminate the conditions of men and women in defiance of the dominant constructions of gender and the hegemonic views of existence working in our culture. Gendered constructions in modernist dance forms have effected the evolution of body image whilst postmodern dance offers a complexity that 'deconstructs' these images.

Included in

Dance Commons