Date of Award

Spring 4-8-2020

Document Type

Distinction Paper

Degree Name

Musical Theatre with Dance Concentration-BFA


Theatre & Dance


Stella Kane

First Committee Member

Stella Kane

Second Committee Member

Dr. Meredith C. Frey

Third Committee Member

Jim Bowling


Dance, Belonging, Choreography, True self, Relationships, video games

Subject Categories

Dance | Gender and Sexuality | Performance Studies | Personality and Social Contexts | Social Psychology


The human sense of belonging morphs and changes as we mature and gain life experience. The relationships we make, or choose not to, affect the way we perceive ourselves, which directly correlates to our understanding of how we belong to the universe as a whole. Perception of self and belonging are inextricably connected, therefore by focusing on belonging to ourselves rather than to the world around us, we experience self-acceptance, allowing us to forge deeper, more meaningful connections with those we choose. True belonging is an active practice that takes effort, and involves reflection and critical evaluation of self. A toxic relationship can be detrimental to our own sense of self, leading to feelings of exclusion, loneliness, and abandonment. At the same time, not accepting one’s self also has a negative effect on one’s sense of belonging. Many people will work to improve their external relationships to find that feeling of belonging. However, if we focus on improving the internal relationship with ourselves, there is a sense of freedom and contentment that allows us to go out into the world, confident in who we are. A strong sense of self-worth results in better judgement when forming meaningful relationships, which further strengthens our concept of self. Belonging to ourselves fosters belonging more broadly, and true belonging is achieved, the people who deserve to be a part of your life will reveal themselves and celebrate the authentic person you are. Inspired by ideas found in Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone and the 2012 video game Journey, I explore the concept of true belonging through the medium of dance performance, highlighting the connection between inward and outward senses of belonging, and sharing the idea of true belonging with a wider audience.