Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts in Dance (MFA)




Dr. Darwin Prioleau

Graduate Program Director

Dr. Darwin Prioleau


Katherine Dunham 1909-2006, developed three primary philosophical methodologies: Form and Function, Intercultural Communication and Socialization Through the Arts, which were integrated within her anthropological research and academic writing, choreographic process and product, physical development of the Dunham Technique, establishment of pedagogical models in schools nationally and internationally, and in her humanistic vision and activist actions.

Within this thesis I trace the origins of Dunham’s three primary philosophies and their utilization within her choreographic process and product. I outline a Dunham Model of Choreography whose effectiveness I examine through its application within the creation, performance and evaluation process of my creative choreographic project, Aché Essence.

Because my creative project explored the embodiment and transformation of encoded ritual movement and rhythmic languages from two sacred dance and music traditions as they transition from their original functions and settings to the concert dance stage and are translated within and communicated through the modern dancing body, I paid particular attention to Ms. Dunham’s translation of sacred and secular dance and music forms of both national and international origin within her choreography.

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