Transformation through dance : Maud Robart and Haitian yanvalou

Jimenez, Pablo Manuel
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2014]
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This research is an inquiry into the role of the Haitian dance yanvalou, in the work of the Haitian artist Maud Robart. Robart works with groups of individuals in structures of movement, in which the dance is combined with Vodou chants. Robart's work focuses not on the creation of dance forms, but on the search of pulses of creative awareness or inherent creative drive within the individual, as the source of dance. In this thesis I argue that Robart emphasizes the exploration of dancing and singing as a window into a deeper and larger view of the human being and creativity. I explain how her approach to form, in both dance and chant, widens the experience of the body by going beyond the inherited cultural viewpoints that consider dance as a tool of the mind to create forms. I explain that in the context of her research, the body is seen not as an object limited by time and space, but as an entity of relatedness, an interface that connects our consciousness to the external world perceived through the senses, as well as to the inner, subjective world--what we feel within our body and psyche. In Robart's work, the body is an open door to the present, past, and future, to all beings, to the most mundane and to the most sacred in the human being. In Robart's research, form, articulated either as dance or chant, is the expression of a duality. Such duality includes the subject's pulses of creative awareness and its response to those same pulses. Robart calls the pulses of creative awareness élan. For her, élan is more than a physical or kinesthetic impulse; it is like a fervor, a passion, and a will to go beyond our limited human condition to find freedom--it is a propulsion toward God. Dance and chant are simultaneously a call and a response to that call. The call represents an innate need to overcome our limitations and realize our transcendental nature. The response is expressed through the evanescent forms our body can create through chant and dance. The realization that form itself is the expression of the creative power of life may lead the individual to a process of transformation of identity and agency. Such transformation is not a temporary and extreme psychological or religious experience as in the Vodou rituals, but a subtle and permanent transformation of perspective on life and art. This research explores Robart's work and ideas, and their connection to notions related to the body and perception as present in modern phenomenology
M.A. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2014.
Includes bibliographical references.
Haitian dance, Maud Robart, Merleau-Ponty and dance, phenomenology of dance, Voudou, yanvalou
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Theses for the degree of Master of Arts (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Dance.
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