Does Subject Matter, Matter?

Faculty Mentor(s)

Professor Alicia Diaz, Hope College

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Doris Humphrey was an exquisite early twentieth-century dancer and choreographer who rivaled great personalities of her time such as Martha Graham. After years of working in the dance world, Humphrey came to the conclusion that subject matter is only important to the choreographer, and that the audience is indifferent to it. “Does Subject Matter, Matter?” is a video piece that explores Humphrey's idea deeper by presenting interviews of both dancers and non-dancers immediately after they attended a dance performance. Participants were asked to give general impressions of a particular dance piece and whether they thought about subject matter while viewing it. The results depicted an unusual outcome. Non-dancers, who are presumably less educated in dance, seemed more perceptive audience members. They were more interested in subject matter while the typical dancer tended to focus primarily on matters of technique, use of space, and movement dynamics.

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