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2018 Abstracts

Escape: A Research through Dance on the Symptoms of Addiction

Francesca DeMartino, Utah Valley University

According to results from the 2014 National Survey and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association, 21.5 million people over the age of twelve had a Substance Use Disorder. This includes 17.0 million people with an alcohol addiction, 7.1 million with an illicit drug addiction, 4.2 million with a marijuana addiction, and 1.9 million with a non-medical prescription pain reliever addiction. These numbers represent 8.1% of the American Population. As an intellectual choreographer, I questioned if the physical and psychological problems that an addict experiences could be translated into the formative properties of dance. In this research project, several criteria that contribute to the Substance Use Disorder are explored through dance by working with the properties of time, space, and focus. The symptoms that are explored are withdrawal reactions, cravings, inability to cut down or control the substance use, and continued usage despite having persistent physical or psychological problems that are correlated with substance use. In this piece, I played with levels to create the up and downs that happen physically and emotionally to the users. I also experimented with circle and spiral patterns to show that it is a repeated problem that also bringing the person down. I also utilized two groups of dancers to further my intent. In one group were the dancers who were experiencing the symptoms of the addiction. These dancers are known as the users. The second group of dancers were the physical manifestation of the drugs control over the individuals, i.e. the addiction. In contrast, the individuals who represent the addiction have linear and direct movement pattern. In order to create a sense of uncertainty, the dancers also work with irregular accents while playing with very slow to very fast timing. It is my intention for the outcome of this piece to illuminate the struggles of an individual who is dealing with the Substance Use Disorder through dance by playing with properties of time, space, and focus.