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Dancing Indigenous Worlds

Dancing Indigenous Worlds

Choreographies of Relation

Jacqueline Shea Murphy

The vital role of dance in enacting the embodied experiences of Indigenous peoples

344 Pages, 7 x 9 in

  • Paperback
  • 9781517912680
  • Published: January 10, 2023
  • eBook
  • 9781452967950
  • Published: January 10, 2023
  • Hardcover
  • 9781517912673
  • Published: January 10, 2023


Dancing Indigenous Worlds

Choreographies of Relation

Jacqueline Shea Murphy

ISBN: 9781517912680

Publication date: January 10th, 2023

344 Pages

44 black and white illustrations

9 x 7

"This remarkable text effectively establishes Indigenous dance studies as a vibrant time-based field of inquiry. Crafting theoretical models in direct relationship to repeated practices of witnessing and experiencing, Jacqueline Shea Murphy models a rich future for scholarship as a shared encounter among stakeholders to performance. Urgent, important, and written to endure as a document of continued creativity, Dancing Indigenous Worlds confirms the intellectual possibilities of translating gesture to text and of moving with care."—Thomas F. DeFrantz, Northwestern University

"In Dancing Indigenous Worlds, Jacqueline Shea Murphy performs a deeply ethical, deliberate ‘witnessing’ of Indigenous dance making. In these stories of how to create radical relationality between bodies, land, history, food—and milk as more than food—the reader should be aware they are being readied; a space has been prepared, the invocations have been made, contemporary movements connected to dance genealogies, past brutalities cast in the surrounding shadows, the spotlight is on bright, and you must step into this world that has been danced for you. There is room for all, and everything, as Shea Murphy reminds us, begins with respect."—Michelle Erai, author of Girl of New Zealand: Colonial Optics in Aotearoa

"The widely varied contexts within Dancing Indigenous Worlds demonstrates the vibrancy of current respectful, relational, Indigenous choreographies."—CHOICE


The vital role of dance in enacting the embodied experiences of Indigenous peoples

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 work in asserting and enacting Indigenous worldviews and the embodied experiences of Indigenous peoples. As Shea Murphy asserts, these dance-making practices can not only disrupt the structures that European colonization feeds upon 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 contributes to 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.

Jacqueline Shea Murphy is associate professor of dance at the University of California–Riverside. She is the author of The People Have Never Stopped Dancing: Native American Modern Dance Histories (Minnesota, 2007) and founder of the ICR (Indigenous Choreographers at Riverside) Gathering project.




Choreographing Relationality

Modern Dance and Modernity/Coloniality

Recalibrations of Relational Exchange

Intersections of Dance and Indigenous Studies

1. Choreographies of Relational Reciprocity

Hosts and Visitors, Aotearoa, 2009

Manaakitanga in Motion: Choreographies of Possibility

With Jack Gray

Hashtag Mitimiti: Where You At?

With Andrew Kendall, Diane Kendall, Tia Reihana-Morunga, Deborah Cocker, and Toni Temehana Pasion

2. Choreographies of Perspectival Relationality

Dance Workshop, Riverside, California, 2006

With Rulan Tangen

Expansive Relationality/Of Bodies of Elements

Identities and Accountabilities, 2019

With Rulan Tangen


Refuge Rock: Otonabee River, Ontario, 2010

With Tanya Lukin Linklater

3. Choreographies of Relational Abun-dance


Abundance and Abun-dance

Emily Johnson/Catalyst

4. Choreographies of Relational Refusings

Yirramboi, Melbourne, Australia, 2017

Facing Refusal

Teachings in Listening

Indigenous Dance Works/Indigenous Dance Making/Indigenous Writing

With Rosy Simas, Mishuana Goeman, Tanya Lukin Linklater, and Daystar/Rosalie Jones

Conclusion: Closing and Opening