The philosophy of dance: A groundwork to dance criticism

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Alan Goldman - Committee Chair


I take "the Philosophy of 'X' " to denote a critical examination of and systematized inquiry into the nature of 'X' and any peculiar problems that arise from the activity of 'X'. So then the substance of the dissertation is a systematic examination the nature of dance with special attention given to 'dance as an art form' or 'dance as a performing art'.In the first chapter I examine definitions of dance (historical and contemporary) to determine if necessary and sufficient conditions can be given for 'dance' and what those conditions might be. In the same chapter, I move by additional qualifications, to a less broad definition until I arrived at one which delineated a set of all and only dance-as-performance-art. Second chapter is an examination of the ontological status of dance and an account of what it is to say that two dances are the "same" or instances of the same work.The third chapter builds upon what had been established in the proceeding two. Given my positive account of dance so far, I develop an account of dance evaluation that justifies the dance critic's claim to "expert judge" and purveyor of knowledge.Finally, the fourth chapter, I outline that qualities are recommended for responsible criticism by proposing an account of dance criticism, its goals and practices and how the critic might best achieve the goals given the practice.


Dance; Philosophy

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