Dance as a Community of Practice: Exploring Dance Groups in the Kansas City Area through the Lifespan
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This dissertation examines the embodied cultural practice of dance among several groups in the Kansas City area. The dance groups were studied as Communities of Practice (CoP), as outlined in the Lave-Wenger model of CoP. The CoP model uses the complementary concepts of “reified structures” and “peripheral participation” to explain social learning. This dissertation argues that participation in dance activities creates body schema and social bonds that make dance a powerful mechanism for learning and teaching social behaviors. The dance groups studied covered a spectrum of dance genres, including folkloric, popular, hip-hop, ballroom, ballet, and modern dance. Data were collected from participant observation, interviews, archives, cable TV shows, websites, and published materials. Archival documentation included photographic and video materials, as well as survey data available for secondary analysis. Grounded Theory Methodology based on qualitative data was deemed the most appropriate approach. By examining these dance groups, certain social processes were consistently observed, including 1) similarities in dance practice across groups led to similar social practices and processes over the lifespan; 2) differences in dance genre aesthetic structure were associated with different forms of CoP structure and organization; the more structured the aesthetic of the dance genre, the more structured and hierarchical the organization of the dance group; 3) certain factors/attributes of the CoPs contributed to the dance group’s robustness and longevity; and 4) the mediation of time and space with other dancers during dance served as a model of interactions between self and others and developed the skills of collaboration. Overall, this study found the sharing and mediation of time and space during dance shaped individual social interactions into increasingly cooperative and collaborative activities. Also, the aesthetic structure of the dance genre was associated with the dance group's hierarchical social structure.
Table of Contents
The project -- Literature review -- Methodology -- Historical context -- Theoretical bases of embodied behavior and social interaction -- Analysis of social dance from a meadian perspective -- Results: analysis of data as community practice -- Conclusion and discussion -- Appendix A. Culture through Ballroom Dance Questionnaire Documents -- Appendix B. Informed Permission Statement -- Appendix C. Models and Diagrams -- Appendix D. Historic Dance Photographs -- Appendix E. Photographs Illustrating Taxonomy