Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Dance) Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Dr Renee Newman

Second Advisor

Dr Luke Hopper


This research project investigates the use of the term ‘natural movement’ in contemporary dance literature throughout the 20th Century. The use of ‘natural movement’ is traced from the work of Isadora Duncan, to its use and influence in contemporary dance practice. A systematic literature review was undertaken to retrieve sources relevant to the scope and nature of the inquiry. These sources were then investigated for trends in the terms used to describe ‘natural movement’ from 1900’s to the present day. In doing so, contradictory understandings of ‘natural movement’ were identified, as well as issues with the multiple meanings associated with the term. Contradictory perspectives were made evident in differing pedagogical approaches to teaching/not teaching ‘natural movement.’ An aesthetic shift in the performance of ‘natural movement’ was also identified. This was made clear by the reduced use of terms such as beauty and grace. This was also exemplified in less literal imitation of the natural world as the 20th Century progressed. The results of this research reveal the problematic nature of movement claimed as ‘natural.’ The terms used to describe ‘natural movement’ deal with ideas of a pre-cultural, or universal body, as well as body/mind, nature/culture and female/male dualism. These ideas are briefly considered within the intersection of dance, philosophy, and sociology. These fields contribute to the discussion section of this thesis, and provide possible areas for future research.