Dancing in place: the radical production of civic spaces
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Public spaces can be manipulated by choreographers to create political identifications that last long beyond the ephemeral performance event. How public space is defined and utilized is intimately connected with a society's definition of who is to be included and the kind of political community to be fostered. Through an engagement with feminist and political geographic writings I argue that dance, as an art form that is dominated by women, can create meaningful public spaces where these women express political attitudes, assert claims to the public realm, and actively use it for their own purposes. Using qualitative methods, three choreographers are highlighted to investigate how they each use symbolism, the social narratives concerning each site, and the built environment to communicate with their audiences about gentrification, environmental protection, and restrictive social mores. This work asserts that the social value of art combined with the nonverbal communication powers of the body leads to a heightened awareness of the political voice of the women involved in these urban performances.