Dancing Indigenous Worlds

Choreographies of Relation

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Jacqueline Shea Murphy

In Dancing Indigenous Worlds, Jacqueline Shea Murphy brings contemporary Indigenous dance makers into the spotlight, putting critical dance studies and Indigenous studies in conversation with one another in fresh and exciting new ways. Exploring Indigenous dance from North America and Aotearoa (New Zealand), she shows how dance artists communicate Indigenous ways of being, as well as generate a political force, engaging Indigenous understandings and histories.

Following specific dance works over time, Shea Murphy interweaves analysis, personal narrative, and written contributions from multiple dance artists, demonstrating dance’s crucial role in asserting and enacting Indigenous worldviews and the embodied experiences of Indigenous peoples. As Shea Murphy asserts, these dance-making practices not only disrupt the structures that European colonization feeds on and strives to maintain but they can also recalibrate contemporary dance.

Based on more than twenty years of relationship building and research, Shea Murphy’s work engages with growing, and largely underreported, discourses on decolonizing dance studies, and the geopolitical, gendered, racial, and relational meanings that dance theorizes and negotiates. She also includes discussions about the ethics of writing about Indigenous knowledge and peoples as a non-Indigenous scholar, and models approaches for doing so within structures of ongoing reciprocal, respectful, responsible action.

Background image, Dancing Earth company in Of Bodies of Elements, 2011, by Paulo Rocha-Taveres.



  • rights
    Portions of chapter 1 are adapted from “Manaakitanga in Motion: Indigenous Choreographies of Possibility” by Jacqueline Shea Murphy and Jack Gray, in Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, ed. David Álvarez and Salah D. Hassan, 36, no. 1 (2013): 242–78; reprinted with permission of University of Hawai‘i Press Journals; permission conveyed through Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. Portions of chapter 1 are adapted from “Eredità haka,” in RicorDANZE: Memoria in movimento e coreografie della storia, ed. Susanne Franco and Marina Nordera (Torino, Italy: Utet Libreria, 2010). Portions of chapters 2 and 3 are adapted from “Dancing in the Here and Now: Indigenous Presence and the Choreography of Emily Johnson and DANCING EARTH,” in The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Politics, ed. Rebekah Kowal and Gerald Siegmund (Oxford: Oxford Publishing Limited, 2017); reprinted with permission of the Licensor through PLSclear.

    Excerpts from Andrew and Diane Kendall, Tia Reihana-Morunga, Toni Temehana Pasion, Deborah Cocker, Rulan Tangen, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Merindah Donnelly, Mishuana Goeman, Rosy Simas, and Daystar/Rosalie Jones are reprinted with permission. Excerpts from “A Conversation with Tanya Lukin Linklater” were originally published in Movement Research Performance Journal #52/53: Sovereign Movements: Native Dance and Performance (Fall 2019).

    Copyright 2022 by Jacqueline Shea Murphy
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  • publisher
    University of Minnesota Press
  • publisher place
    Minneapolis, MN
  • restrictions
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
  • rights holder
    Jacqueline Shea Murphy
  • doi