Polyphony as a bricolage: my explorations of creative dance and music practice with young children and a composer

Rojas Bernal, Jimena (2022) Polyphony as a bricolage: my explorations of creative dance and music practice with young children and a composer. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Download (2MB)


Here, I aim to develop a participatory methodological approach where dancing and music-making are both methodologies and outputs of research. To do this I develop a close-to-practice research approach, where I can be researcher, dancer, pianist and participant, identifying issues relevant to dance and music practice, through collaboration with practitioners and young children.

The programme of doctoral research I here present is based on creative practice, considering how doing creative practices together with young children can build on existing knowledges of participatory methods and artistic research on performance. I have been working on methodological innovations around co-creation to diminish existing boundaries between adults who engage in creative practice, including myself, and young children. The findings of this PhD project contribute to the academic literature as well as to the acts of engaging in creative practice (i.e. dance and music) itself and can also be applied not only in the context of childhood, but also in the wider context of creative practice. This is one of the most important aspects of the thesis.

The research takes place with 4-year-olds in a reception classroom and with a composer in a piano room, through a series of different studies, which show the evolution of a methodology. I set out to explore how “we” (i.e. young children and I) engage with imagined stories (i.e. storybooks, oral storytelling and pretend play) through affective communication through the body. Then, I proceed to explore possible connections between everyday body language that communicates feelings with dancing and music-making specifically. I then bring these studies together by exploring connections between dance, stories and music, by “adding” dance and music to a scene of The Three Little Pigs. Finally, I develop a composition for piano simultaneous to a choreography together with a composer. The choreography is based in ballet and incorporates some of the movements the children perform in the antecedent research pieces. The composition sits within the contemporary classical genre (although I am not familiar with a contemporary style). The composition and choreography act as both artistic and recursive methodologies that enable me to make sense of what I learn from the children.

Overall contributions speak of a polyphony (i.e. multiple voices or melodic lines in a piece of music, where the role of prominence is shared) within the social, where voices of different people are seen and heard regardless of who they are. A polyphony in the social is enhanced by the concept of “bricolage”, which not only emerges through the combination of dance and music per se, but also through the development of a methodology that emerges as a co-creative and collaborative approach where my dance/music procedures co-exist with those of the participants.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Psychology > Psychology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation. Leisure > GV1199 Games and amusements > GV1580 Dancing
M Music. Literature on music. Musical instruction and study > ML Literature on music > ML3800 Philosophical and societal aspects of music. Physics and acoustics of music. Physiological aspects of music > ML3916 Social and political aspects of music
M Music. Literature on music. Musical instruction and study > MT Musical instruction and study > MT0918 School music > MT0930 Elementary schools. Junior high schools. High schools
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2022 15:41
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2022 07:39
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/105513

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update