Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Patti D'Beck


Dance in most musical theatre is an assumed visual element and something that is often taken for granted in production. What is its purpose is the question being pondered in this paper. Since Agnes de Mille first presented her legendary dream ballet in Oklahoma! in 1943, theatrical dance has never been the same. She revolutionized the function of dance in theatre forever. No longer would dance merely be used as interludes or divertissements. Though a seemingly simple theatrical concept, to use movement and choreography to either further the plot or to communicate a character’s journey, it is not only much easier said than done, it is also less commonly occurring than one would imagine. Dance for dance’s sake is still prevalent and the theatre suffers because of it. My thesis will be a journey paper reflecting on my teaching perspective as it has developed and changed based on my two years at Virginia Commonwealth University. I will look at the specific productions and classes I have been involved in and how they have all contributed to and shaped my emerging pedagogical philosophy regarding dance, choreography, direction and teaching. I will explore and prove the importance and necessity of “storytelling through movement” as well as explore the need for a clearly communicated goal and unifying element in all theatrical productions.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012