Aesthetic Considerations in Community Dance: A Practitioner’s Perspective

By Mary Fitzgerald.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Since the 1970s, artists in the United States have been developing a wide range of community dance practices, profoundly influencing the aesthetics of contemporary art as a whole, and the communities in which they live. For the
purposes of this paper, community dance is defined as a field in which artists
collaborate with other community members on creative projects, many of which tackle social issues that include political, religious, historical, and cultural concerns. Although an enormous range of initiatives exists, community dance projects tend to celebrate such democratic ideals as collaboration, inclusion, and diversity, and focus on process-based approaches to art making. Yet despite the significant proliferation of practices, and its influence on the evolution of contemporary arts during the past forty years, community dance continues to be marginalized as a serious art form. As a whole, the field is bifurcated into two parts: its social agenda and its artistic goals, with the former being valued far more than the latter. This paper examines some of the biases towards community dance aesthetics, and attempts to identify artistic criteria that could increase appreciation of the form, expand our practices, and broaden our overall perceptions of art.

Keywords: Community Dance, Aesthetics, Contemporary Art Practices

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.9-18. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.210MB).

Prof. Mary Fitzgerald

Associate Professor, School of Dance, Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Mary Fitzgerald has been active in the professional dance community as a performer, choreographer and educator since 1984. She was a member of Kei Takei’s Moving Earth for nearly ten years, performing and teaching internationally. She has been a guest artist for several professional companies and dance programs in the United States, Europe, Japan, China, Mexico, India, Colombia, and Israel. Ms. Fitzgerald’s choreography has received funding from the Ministry of Culture in Mexico, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture and the Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts. She is a winner of the 2005 Arizona Choreography Competition, and received an Artists Project Award in 2006. As an Associate Professor at ASU, Ms. Fitzgerald has received two Distinguished Teaching Awards, and several mentorships awards. From 1998-2007, she co-directed Dance Arizona Repertory Theatre (DART), the community dance company at ASU. DART’s program excellence was recognized with the President’s Award for Social Embeddedness in 2004, and for a second time in 2007 as a partner to the ASU Art Museum.


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