The expression of illness narratives within art has gained considerable attention within the field of medical humanities, however few have considered the ways in which dance functions as a medium for constructing and sharing such narratives. I aim to bring attention to the possibility that dance, as an embodied art form, may uniquely provide individuals with a medium for illness storytelling which gives a voice both to and from the suffering body. In this paper, I first discuss two significant social and artistic influences which inspired choreographers to incorporate illness stories into concert dance, the 1960’s egalitarian art movement and the 1980s AIDS epidemic. I then look closely at three key pieces in dance history, Ann Cooper Allbright’s 1988 performance, Neil Greenberg’s Not-About-Aids-Dance, and Bill T Jones’ Still / Here, in order to reveal how the incorporation of illness narratives into concert dance provides insight into the personal and social functions of constructing and sharing illness narratives.
"Giving the Body a Voice: Dance as Embodied Illness Narrative,"
The Macksey Journal: Vol. 1
, Article 1.
Available at: https://www.mackseyjournal.org/publications/vol1/iss1/1