Dancing my true dance: reflections on learning to express myself through ecstatic dance in Hawai'i

Pickering, L. (2009) Dancing my true dance: reflections on learning to express myself through ecstatic dance in Hawai'i. Anthropology Matters, 11(1),

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While I was doing fieldwork with hippies and drop outs in Hawai'i, my mother came to visit. During her visit I took her to an ecstatic dance. At this dance one of my research participants, Stan, told me, "Lucy, I've been watching you dance today and you've really learned to express yourself". Discussing it later, my mother remarked, "Yes, but what he meant was that you've learned to dance like everyone else". In this paper I explore how the same piece of dance could be interpreted so differently by these two observers. I identify the importance of "acquired movement vocabulary" for rendering improvised dance intelligible to observers, so that Stan, trained to identify the point of such a dance - self-expression - through my dance could see self-expression where my mother, trained in observing how well her daughter fits in with others, saw something entirely different.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pickering, Dr Lucy
Authors: Pickering, L.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Anthropology Matters
Publisher:Anthropology Matters
ISSN (Online):1758-6453
Published Online:01 January 2009

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