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Exploring the percussive routes and shared commonalities in Cape Breton step dancing

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dc.contributor.advisor Foley, Catherine E.
dc.contributor.author Melin, Mats H.
dc.date.accessioned 2012-08-27T08:55:19Z
dc.date.available 2012-08-27T08:55:19Z
dc.date.issued 2012
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10344/2489
dc.description peer-reviewed en_US
dc.description.abstract Cape Breton step dancing is the regional label, given to the vernacular form of percussive step dance found in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada. Whether improvised or choreographed into a routine, this dance genre has, alongside the local fiddle tradition become emblematic for the Cape Breton community identity. Exploring the Percussive Routes and Shared Commonalities in Cape Breton Step Dancing is the first academic study where the investigation is focused on visual, aural and kinaesthetic transmission processes at work in the Cape Breton dance community. Observing, participating and sensing by utilizing phenomenological hermeneutics as a research method are the three transmission processes which are analysed individually and symbiotically. The study observes how Cape Breton step dance movements are embodied and also how they migrate from body to body by means of the three sensoria. Observations on visual transmission, for example, draw on recent research in the cognitive sciences, and what aspects of the dance tradition that are acquired by direct observation in different community contexts are explored. Aural, or ear, learning probes the interconnected transmission environment of the home as one example, and furthermore looks at the particular local soundscape that informs dancers of sound and rhythm preferences in the Cape Breton music and song tradition and its relationship to dance movement. As a means of transmitting cultural knowledge, kinaesthetic transfer, alongside visual and aural processes, could be seen as a key component for shaping the aesthetic, stylistic and movement preferences of step dancing in Cape Breton. Kinaesthetic transfer is the bringing out of somatic, or felt, dimensions of movement; in other words, the proprioceptive or kinaesthetic awareness of movement’s kinetic vitality. The combination of these three transmission processes at work in different dance contexts enables and informs the individual dancer of the Cape Breton community’s preferred style and aesthetic criteria for step dancing. Equally, these processes enable the same individual to improvise their dancing round a commonly shared repertoire of motifs, or ‘steps’ that form part of the flexible boundaries surrounding the shared commonalities of this dance genre. This study aims to illustrate the aforementioned transmission processes at work in the contexts of the home, the dance class, the concert, and at the local square dances. The analysis of these processes aims to elicit what common movement material and aesthetic and stylistic criteria the local community considers to be essential components of Cape Breton step dance. A concluding picture which emerges, based on the particular sources of this study, is one of a holistic transmission environment, where the processes of sights, sounds, and kinaesthetic awareness, all often subconsciously, work harmoniously together to inform each actor in this cultural context. Transmission occurs over long periods of time and develops into an on-going process that forms an integral part of daily life for those involved. Even though the home context is no longer the primary environment for transmission of dance, the informality of transmission at concerts and at square dances deepens the understanding, provided in the class teaching context. The dance genre is changing, with a growing motif repertoire being one result. This study, however, shows that most of the essential elements with regard to movement repertoire, aesthetic and stylistic criteria are maintained. These essential elements make up the shared commonalities that define Cape Breton step dance and which are passed on through the transmission processes described. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher University of Limerick en_US
dc.subject Cape Breton step dancing en_US
dc.subject dance movements en_US
dc.subject dance tradition en_US
dc.title Exploring the percussive routes and shared commonalities in Cape Breton step dancing en_US
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/doctoralThesis en_US
dc.type.supercollection all_ul_research en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_published_reviewed en_US
dc.type.supercollection ul_theses_dissertations en_US
dc.rights.accessrights info:eu-repo/semantics/closedAccess en_US
dc.internal.authorcontactother mats.melin@ul.ie


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