Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Maggi Phillips


Why is risk intentionally cultivated in contemporary dance? What purpose does it serve, for performers, choreographers and audiences? This thesis explores the ways in which risk-taking affects the meaning and significance of a dance work. It seeks to question whether the use of risk can render a dance more powerful, affecting or confronting, or whether intentional risk overshadows and, thus, detracts attention away from the aesthetic content. I also ask how being 'at risk' affects the performer. Can it engender investment and authenticity? The risks explored in this thesis include both physical and emotional or intellectual risks. I refer to the work of choreographers, visual and performing artists, sociologists, philosophers and psychologists to investigate the ways in which risk is used in contemporary dance to create meaning, authenticity and content, and I present varying views on its success and validity in doing so. I also draw parallels between the application of risk in dance and other arenas, including extreme sports, performance art, and modern society in general. Furthermore, I examine attitudes to risk from a historical perspective, discussing how prevailing views on risk have evolved with time and how this affects its treatment within. dance. Beyond defining risk and what it may be in a dance context, I address the topic by way of four major analytical frameworks: sociology, psychology, art and performance theory, and cultural theory. My findings via these discrete approaches allow for a broad summation of risk-taking in contemporary dance.