Technique reframed body reimagined

Author Identifier


Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Supervisor

Lyndall Adams

Second Supervisor

Luke Hopper

Third Supervisor

Jonathan Marshall

Fourth Supervisor

Michael Whaites


Technique Reframed Body Reimagined is a complex and subtle proposition that considers the long-standing philosophical and historical divide between aesthetic and somatic movement practices and investigates how they might effectively coexist within a dance training context. This research project focused on contemporary dance; it used the Feldenkrais Method® (Feldenkrais) as a lens to reframe technique and training. Through extended studio practice, the research explored the possibilities of an integrated form to embed the somatic within the aesthetic—an ever-present invisible partner that assimilates precise internal connection with a finely articulated, outwardly dancing body. This research logically followed my training as a Feldenkrais practitioner and my subsequent consideration of how specific aspects of Feldenkrais had refocused and prolonged my professional career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. I intended to explore how to integrate somatic principles within dance technique and subsequently determine how to share this information with tertiary dance students.

A/r/tography provided the methodological framework for this practice-based research, which occurred in three stages and required the intertwined skills of an artist/researcher/teacher. The research explored and documented how the physical, sensorial and philosophical aspects of Feldenkrais could be used to create dance class materials that facilitated an individual and autonomous physical perspective and encouraged a reframing of students’ technical knowledge. Concurrently, the research sought a complementary pedagogical strategy to support tertiary dance students in their final year of vocational training. The research context was established through an online survey. Solo studio practice informed the creation of the dance class materials, and focus group participants who attended the dance classes or workshops provided crucial feedback for determining and refining the physical and pedagogical aspects of the project.

Despite previous exposure to somatic practices, the survey established that students had limited knowledge of applying somatic information to their daily training. Consequently, their somatic learning experience was not sustainable. Studio research investigated the possibilities of utilising Awareness Through Movement® (ATM) and Functional Integration®(FI) aspects to inspire movement choice, seek skeletal connection and create functional pathways to facilitate the coexistence of the somatic and aesthetic aspects within the same class. The sensorial experience of both ATM and FI influenced the focus and development of individual class exercises and the subsequent series of classes. The organisation of all materials into common themes ultimately informed the pedagogical approach. A flexible and responsive pedagogical framework created an autonomous learning environment that encouraged student agency and provided a challenging but cohesive learning experience.

The application of this research encourages students to meaningfully explore another frame of reference within their dance technique class, providing an opportunity to expand embodied knowledge through integrated rather than siloed learning. The research revealed that the complexity of the class materials and concepts is best suited to third- and fourth- year dance students. A training program alternating between integrated classes, ATM lessons and traditional technique supports students in developing a personal reflective practice to assimilate and apply their enhanced understanding across different training contexts.



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