Move me: A Plan of Concentration in dance and poetry

Plan Author

  • Cookie Harrist, 2012

Fields of Concentration

Sample Courses

  • Tutorial: Embodied Poetry
  • Tutorial: Choreography
  • Course: Intermediate/Advanced Modern Dance Technique
  • Course: Dance & Gender

Project Description

An investigation of how the performance of words and actions can shake performers and viewers into the present moment.

Faculty Sponsors

Outside Evaluator

  • Adele Myers, Artistic Director, Adele Myers and Dancers


What does it mean for a dancer to be fully present in her work? What is the difference, however subtle, between “movement” and “dance”? Is it possible for dancers to develop their sense of presence through intentional practice? This Plan examines these challenging questions, combining the theories of previous dancers and extensive personal experience to inform the author’s concept of “full embodiment.”

Rudolf von Laban, one of the earliest dancers to explore the relationship between a performer’s movement and intention, broke down the performer’s attitude into four factors: flow, weight, time, and space. Through movement exercises that purposefully alter one or more of these variables, dancers can learn to embody their movements more fully and have a greater effect on their audience.

In her independent project, the author explored full embodiment dance with a group of students performing her choreography. Over several nights of performance, this exploration of meaning and movement provided valuable information on which techniques resonated most strongly with the audience.


“This is about dance. It is not about the choreographic process, the history of modern dance, a body of choreographic work, the life of one dancer, themes of gender, race, politics… I’m here to learn more about dancing: the act of it, the feel of it, the reason why I do it. The question is, what does a dancer do to dance?”

“By actively changing how we think about moving, we change our movements – even the subtle movements that we are not aware of. For example, in imagining her foot grows roots, a dancer might become more stable. Here she finds balance, although she might not be aware of the change in her foot’s movements that allow this balance to emerge.”


“The feeling I get when I dance was the main inspiration for my Plan – my body-mind connection, my sense of presence in the moment, the pleasurable sensation of fully extending my body. I wanted to delve deeper into that experience.”