Relationships between choreographers and dancers are sometimes defined by a particular hierarchy in which choreographers hold more power than dancers do throughout dance making processes. There is very little room for dancer input, interpretation, or feedback in traditional choreographic process models. Though these power dynamics have been challenged since the 1960s through an emphasis on emancipatory artistic and pedagogical practices, dance artists still negotiate positions of power and control. Although some artists approach choreography with collaborative intentions, the long–held notions of dancers as non-speaking, observant, and obedient are stubbornly maintained in many educational and professional environments where young people learn how to interact with choreographers. Through investigation of public scholarship, the voices of dance educator participants who completed surveys, and the authors’ own collaborative artistic explorations, a deepened understanding of the ways choreographers incorporate collaboration with dancers and the benefits and drawbacks of these experiences can be gleaned. In this article, we contend that approaching choreographic and performance practices as a series of exchanges and shared ownership between artists working collaboratively while, at the same time, working to redefine and maintain flexible creative roles deepens artistic possibilities and yields meaning for dancers and choreographers.
- creative process