Skip to main content
Utah's Foremost Platform for Undergraduate Research Presentation
2020 Abstracts

Utopianism in American Dance

Jessica Ketchum (Utah Valley University)

As dance has moved into the world of Academia, dance researchers have adopted various theoretical research models to support the idea that dance is a reflection of culture. In addition, postmodern critical theorists have developed evidence that proves that dance is a product of the culture in which it is created. The New Historicism theoretical research model also makes ties between past world history and the dances that were created at that time, and assumes that dance is a direct reflection of the era in which it was produced. For example, the aftermath of WW1 lead to a drastic change in culture, economics, and politics throughout the world.(Brown) The reconfiguration of world economies and governmental powers lead to the popularization of Utopianism throughout the world. Many Americans believed in the establishment and development of Utopian communities. Utopianism is a perfect visionary reform and idealistic view of a commonwealth. (Britannica) It is the idea that all members of a community can work together to support one another economically to create peace and unity. Correspondingly, many authors and artists began experimenting with ideas of utopianism. Artist, Doris Humphrey, integrated common phenomenons of the society into her choreography. (Hahn 1:55) She used ideas of unity and reinforcing community in Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor. This research analysis will discuss Doris Humphrey’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, from a New Historicism perspective and will argue that Humphrey’s choreographic choices for the piece were a direct reflection of the Utopian fixation in 20th century America.