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Wonderwomen: Embodied Confidence in Popular Media

Alexander, Alethea. "Wonderwomen: Embodied Confidence in Popular Media." Research presented at the Annual Arts and Society Conference. Vancouver, B.C.. June 2018.


What if human movement could more efficiently catalyze women’s empowerment than engaging in social and policy battles? Through a series of oral and movement interviews with twelve nationally diverse dancers now studying at the University of Washington, my research has begun to uncover a vocabulary of movement qualities intrinsic to physical expressions of confidence and empowerment in women. Supported by Robin Konie’s socioemotional application of Laban Movement Analysis, I suggest that circular movement in free flow with a centrally organized kinesphere might elicit feelings of safety and self-assuredness in practitioners, and that directional, bound flow movement with a distally organized kinesphere might evoke a sensation of empowerment. Functional psychologist William James and bio-feminist Elizabeth Wilson agree that physical experiences of the body directly influence emotional states. Furthermore, the psychological research community recognizes a need for continued and theoretical and practical research on the topic of empowerment. What if movement could clarify and catalyze empowerment? As a dancer and researcher, I agree with Elizabeth Wilson that (after a necessary period of relying on critique of sociocultural systems) it is time to reintroduce biology, neurology and physicality into discussions of women’s empowerment.