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dharmakaya: An investigation into the impact of mindful meditation on dancers’ creative processes in a choreographic environment

Lefebvre Sell, Naomi (2013). dharmakaya: An investigation into the impact of mindful meditation on dancers’ creative processes in a choreographic environment. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance/City University London)


This practice-based research project aims to weave together the data generated through a dance making process, with a reflective, critical analysis of the data, to argue that incorporating meditation in the creative process can have a profound impact on a creative practice. dharmakaya, the dance work I choreographed for the purpose of this investigation, was developed in collaboration with four dancers, who were at the time, students studying on a BA (Hons) Dance Theatre programme. The process of creating the work involved a deep engagement with the principles and practices of meditation in order to consider critically the impact this had on my own creative practice and on dancers’ creative endeavours in the choreographic environment. Integral to this research project is consideration of the implications of this process for practice-based research and practices within the art form.

The written thesis provides the analysis of the creative process of making dharmakaya. It seeks to understand if a creative environment can be established which incorporates the principles and practices gained from meditation to support and enhance dancers’ creative processes as co-creators of dance work. I discuss how my approach results in changes in how movement material is generated by the dancers, in the direction of the rehearsal process and in my engagement with the dancers. Importantly, the thesis makes clear how a method of analysis can be established which allows the results of the practice-based research to be sympathetically transformed into written form.

As a whole the study contributes to the current field of research through the development of a dance making methodology that incorporates mindful meditation and enables the dancers’ verbal and embodied engagement. This methodology incorporates data collection and analysis in order to facilitate a critical reflection on the efficacy of the process. The thesis argues that adapting principles from meditation teachings offers a choreographer a means to engage dancers in a process of ‘letting go’, to stimulate their creativity and their capacity to generate material in the process of dance making: it offers them a language – an embodied language – with which to articulate and contribute ideas in verbal form.

This practice-based research contributes to the continuing debates about training methods for contemporary dancers and choreographers, the leading/direction of creative dance making processes, and the different ways in which dancers engage with the preparation and performance of choreographed work.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Departments: Doctoral Theses
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